Beryl Cook, Estate of
Beryl Cook (1926-2008) was born 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 who 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, and as a shy and private person she prefers to observe a crowd of people, her acute eye missing nothing. She recorded scenes of everyday life in minute detail and has an almost photographic memory. Beryl travelled considerably, gleaning new material for her work. The early local scenes expanded to Buenos Aires, New York, Cuba, Paris and Barcelona. In 1995 Beryl was made an OBE.