Beryl Cook was born in 1926 in Surrey, England, one of four sisters. She left school at fourteen, showing little talent for painting and worked in a variety of jobs. Moving to London in 1943 Beryl became a showgirl in a touring production of ‘The Gypsy Princess’. She also worked in the fashion industry, which inspired her life-long interest in the way people dress and how they look.
Beryl Cook’s work is particularly interesting when viewed in the context of the tradition of British social realist painting and she could easily be described as a contemporary Hogarth or Gilray, although she has a more sympathetic view of the human race. She is, like those painters, above all a social observer. She records human frailties and the absurdities of human behaviour with her own unique vision. Beryl’s personality though is in great contrast to her paintings. She is a shy and private person, often depicting the flamboyant and extrovert characters she would love to be. She prefers to observe a crowd of people, her acute eye missing nothing. She records in minute detail scenes of everyday life and has an almost photographic memory.
In 1995 Beryl was made an OBE.
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