Beryl Cook first came to national prominence in 1976 when the Sunday Times published an article about her and her paintings. She subsequently published her first signed limited edition The Four Hungry Cats in 1977. The Art Class followed in 1979 and her work has been published ever since, releasing at least one new title each year. Early in 2005 the thirty-fifth limited edition Ladies Who Lunch was released.
When Berylís work was first published there was no market for humorous pictures of any description and it was difficult to persuade galleries to stock her prints. Those that did sell her work did so because they personally believed in her and their commitment was backed by the response of the public who very quickly took Beryl and her sense of humour to their hearts.
Artists whose work truly stands the test of time and the vagaries of fashion and trends are few and far between. The fact that Beryl's pictures have been collected and enjoyed throughout the country for over a quarter of a century is a testament to the true integrity of her painting as uniquely, Beryl paints solely for herself and no-one else; if a subject or incident amuses her or captures her imagination she will paint it and, having done so, she will enjoy that picture as much as anyone. For this reason paintings often remain in her possession for many months after they are finished. She paints what she wants, not what anyone else wants.
She is aware of her success but she is also aware of the negative aspects of over-exposure and this is why she has always been careful about the number of her pictures that are published as limited editions, both as lithographs and as silkscreen prints. Less restriction on the other hand is applied to her greeting cards, calendars and books because she feels that these are to be enjoyed by a wider audience.
The key to her work is of course her sense of humour. She is never cruel or hurtful and loves larger-than-life characters and the more outrageous someone looks or behaves, the more she wants to paint them. You will not find any of the Ďart establishment' attempting to explain or even liking her work. Indeed it is a source of some pride to her that they don't and if they did she would probably have a fit! Yet her influence upon the popular art world has been enormous in bringing humorous painting to the fore and in 1995 she rightly received an OBE for her services to art. (In typical shy fashion she declined to receive it from the Queen and instead settled for a private civil ceremony).
For Beryl her pictures have a life of their own - Ď I don't know how my pictures happen. They just do. They exist, but for the life of me I can't explain them' '. That they do and that they bring such delight to so many is enough explanation for us all.