bob bernard artist

Northern English painter who grew up in the city of Manchester and moved to study fine art at Sheffield’s Psalter Lane site in 1984 and has remained a resident in South Yorkshire to this day.

Early work

‘I suppose I come from mixed heritage. My dad (1927-1983) was a Brooklyn Jew whose grandparents had left Belarus with their children at the turn of the century, like many others fleeing the pogroms. I was once told that there were two brothers who set out on the voyage, one who completed it and one turned back and returned home. My grandparents would have been about 3 years old when they made this journey. My father chose to sign up to the US navy to fight Fascism as a 17 year old as you had to be aged 18 to join the army. He’d completed his training as a gunner and navigator to fly in a two manned dive bomber and was on his two week leave awaiting to be sent out to the Pacific when Japan surrendered. His older brother was shot down in a bomber flying over France, broke his ankle on landing and was handed over to the German authorities by a local farmer. The German army officer was left with the decision to either hand him over to the Gestapo or to the Luftwaffe. His decision undoubtably saved my uncle’s life.

My mother was brought up as a Catholic is south Germany in a village 10 miles south of Ulm. She was born in 1935 and can still clearly remember Jews being persecuted, the personal hatred that was inflicted upon them and their removal from her village. She has many anecdotes, including remembering one of the neighbours, an SS officer regularly coming home with the spoils of war. And like all the children she attended school in the era that Nazi ‘race’ propaganda populated the walls of the classroom. My parents divorced when I was seven and I lived with my father. I was brought up with no religion as such, but with stories of my father’s Jewish childhood and a decent education of the fight against antisemitism and the broader US civil rights movement – he was a journalist. He died in 1983 just before I started my art foundation course in Manchester. In 1984 I moved to Sheffield to do a Fine Art degree. It was at this point where I started looking at where I came from, my heritage, reading up a lot on the subject, where my family histories meet and my artwork became very focused on the Holocaust. It’s a subject that draws you.’

Recent Work

Recent work is focused on both figurative and landscape subjects, the latter worked from the striking and rugged scenery found in the Peak District. His oil paintings capture the dramatic physical structures of the Peaks enhanced by the light and colours that the seasons bring, the ever-changing weather shifting through the landscape.

He has exhibited at several shows including the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts Open Exhibition, the Sheffield Mappin Art Gallery Open Exhibition and has sold work through private galleries in Manchester, Sheffield and Derbyshire.

Bob has also built a successful career as a freelance graphic artist and a political satirist cartoonist working under the guise of ‘Get Satire Done’.

Bob was diagnosed with Parkinson’s a little over two years ago,

‘like most people who are diagnosed I had probably had it for some time. It was affecting my work as a freelance graphic artist, I was struggling with stiffness and loss of fine motor control primarily with my left hand (fortunately I am right-handed), back ache, brain fog, and tiredness. The medication has improved things dramatically. I am trying to turn this into a positive, and use it as an opportunity to focus on my first great love, painting.’