Artists’ Lives: Beryl Cook (now in Cross Stitch!)

Beryl Cook

Bothy Threads have licensed the paintings of Beryl Cook for their latest collection, and like the original artwork, the results are amusing, uplifting, passionate and joyful.

Beryl Cook’s art is instantly recognisable and universally loved. As one of Britain’s most celebrated painters, her work depicted everyday social observations, in a style that has never been equalled.

“I don’t know how my pictures happen, they just do.  They exist, but for the life of me I can’t explain them.” Beryl Cook

Born in 1920s Surrey, Beryl Cook worked in the theatre and the fashion industry, before marrying her childhood friend John and moving to Zimbabwe (then the British colony of Rhodesia).

Settling in Plymouth in the mid 1960s, the Cook’s ran a theatrical boarding house in the summer, where the comings and goings of the vibrant guests were a constant amusement and inspiration to Beryl, who would concentrate on painting them in the winter months.

Beryl Cook Cruising

Beryl Cook Bubbly Cross Stitch
The characters from Beryl Cook’s painting ‘Cruising’ have been lovingly translated into cross stitch by Bothy Threads.

By the mid 1970s, Beryl’s work was being regularly exhibited locally, and national and international interest in her work soon followed. She travelled extensively and recorded local life wherever she went, racking up an extraordinary 500 paintings in her lifetime.

But despite the exuberant characters that she painted, Beryl herself was a relatively shy and introverted person, perhaps expressing her hidden social desires in her work.

“The appeal of Beryl Cook’s paintings is their directness, exuberance and the instant laughter they create. Her characters are always enjoying themselves to the hilt.”

Beryl Cook Cross Stitch
‘Girls Night Out’ shows Beryl Cook’s characters at their best.
Beryl Cook's work has been translated into cross stitch!
‘Wheels’ is fun to stitch and to display.

Beryl Cook was awarded an OBE in 1995 by which time she had become Britain’s best-loved painter. She sadly died in 2008, but her work continues to delight audiences with its charmingly chubby figures and wonderfully witty scenes.

Original Beryl Cook works are held in museums and galleries worldwide, and now you can create your own Beryl Cook masterpiece in cross stitch with Bothy Threads latest kits. Stitch some bathing beauties, wheeling wonders or glorious girls on the town, and let us know how you get on in the comments below, or on social media using #SewandSo.

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About Ame

Ame Verso is the daughter of legendary cross stitch designer Jo Verso and has been cross stitching since the age of 10. She also sews and crochets and is the face of the SewandSo YouTube channel.