Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery’s summer exhibition this year shows the joyous paintings of Beryl Cook who died in 2008.
I’ve learnt a lot about Beryl Cook in the last week or so and been round the exhibition twice, once to take photos to send to an old friend who has some of her work and then, surprise, the old friend got in contact and turned up here so we went together again. This time I sat and watched the archive film of the rare interviews she gave and really warmed to her as a person.
Despite being largely snubbed by the art establishment, Beryl Cook became well-loved by the general public following a South Bank Show about her in 1979. In January 2004 there was a two part cartoon called Bosom Pals which had Dawn French, Timothy Spall and Alison Steadman giving voice to her characters. You can find bits of these on YouTube if you look for them.
She lived here in Bristol for a while and some of her pub pictures are from that time, as is the painting of the ferry boat Matilda which still works down on the Harbour.
She had no formal training and didn’t take up painting until her 40s.
There are no restrictions on taking photos in the Museum, with the stipulation that you don’t use flash so here are a few of the ones I took. I thought the food related ones might be fun to share with you! Her work is much sought after now and collected. I hope this doesn’t impinge on the copyright of these pictures. I have reproduced them here at a small size and a low resolution and hope to publicise the free exhibition at the City Museum by doing so. If there is a problem with showing them, I hope someone will let me know.
I’ve found this lovely slideshow with extracts from interviews with Beryl Cook on the BBC’s website as well!