New Beryl Cook exhibition comes to the council house this summer

An exhibition featuring some of the earliest and quirkiest works by much-loved artist Beryl Cook (1926-2008) will go on display at the Council House from June 24.

‘Our Beryl: Beryl Cook at Home’ will run until September 9 and is part of the ‘On Tour’ programme that the City Museum and Art Gallery is running while its building is closed for the development of the History Centre. The exhibition has been co-curated with Beryl’s family.

Cook’s work is instantly recognisable and is represented in private and public collections across the world – but this exhibition will be a much more intimate affair. It will include Cook’s very first work, items she painted for her home in Plymouth, as well as a number of the paintings and objects she made for the people she was closest to.

The exhibition will explore themes such as fame, family and friends and fantasy. It will also feature a recreation of her studio complete with some of her sketch books, fan letters, photographs and knitting.

Beryl’s son John Cook said: “Although she was popular, Beryl was actually quite reserved and found fame hard to deal with. She loved to imagine herself as an extrovert though, and some of her various guises will appear in the exhibition – her on a motorbike, in a shiny corset, as a cheerleader and dancing the tango.

“Beryl took great interest in people and loved to see them performing and enjoying themselves. From nightlife of all varieties, to the more innocent pursuits of line dancing and sunbathing, a diverse spectrum of human activity can be found in her paintings, many of which also reveal her strong sense of fun.”

Exhibition opening hours will be 10am to 4pm Monday to Saturday and admission is free. Museum staff have planned a programme of related events including a lunchtime talk, exhibition tours, family activities and a special guided walk that explores ‘Beryl Cook’s Plymouth’. The Cook family has also developed a range of prints and other products that will be available to purchase.

Exhibition curator Hilary Bracegirdle said: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Beryl’s family and to be able to showcase so many works that people will have never seen in a public exhibition before. Beryl’s family was the most important thing in her life, and they will all be there for our visitors to see with their cats, dogs and tortoises, rendered with humour and affection.”

For full details of the ‘Our Beryl: Beryl Cook at Home’ exhibition and events visit the what’s on section of www.plymhearts.org

For more information about Beryl Cook visit www.ourberylcook.com

First published in the Plymouth Shopper – June 2017

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