- Date: 1978
- Medium: acrylic on board
- Dimensions: 46 x 152 cm
- Credit Line: Gift of the artist, 2006
- Permanent Collection ID: 006.A.009
Like Ironing Board (1978), also in the Museum London collection, Tea Ceremony takes an unusual overhead perspective of a common domestic sight. Stove, countertop, teapot and floor almost lose their dimensionality, becoming components of a larger decorative pattern.
Viewers may struggle to reconcile the formality of the painting’s title with the ordinary subject matter presented here: the daily act of making tea in this middle-class Western kitchen seems far from the rituals of the Japanese tea ceremony, for example, or the ceremony of taking English “high tea.” Yet rather than ridicule her “lowly” subject matter, Vincent lends it a quiet dignity. Viewers are compelled to look at the familiar as something new, even strange—and, if only for a moment, they may stop taking the domestic sphere for granted along with the often unseen, unacknowledged actions that maintain it. This freezing of time and reconsideration of it is something Vincent explores in such serialized works as In July the Sun Sets Thirty One Times (also 1978, collection of the McIntosh Gallery). As Vincent said of the latter work, “I wasn’t looking for exciting things to happen in the sky; if nothing happened that was important too.”1
1. Bernice Vincent quoted in Robert McKaskell, All Around Me … All Around You, (London: Forest City Gallery, London, Ontario, and Gallery I.I.I., Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1996), 2.