The artist who paints larger than life people proves a hit

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SHE was best known for her bright pictures of generously-proportioned people having fun.

Artist Beryl Cook continues to draw the crowds, with a new exhibition doubling visitors to a Hull museum in its first weekend.

Numbers were up 55 per cent on Saturday, to more than 650, and on Sunday a staggering 350 per cent (300).

Hull Council has secured the loan of 30 paintings by the artist, all of which are privately-owned, and date from the 1970s to the last one Cook ever painted in 2008, the year she died.

Some galleries won’t show works by the artist, but curator of Maritime and Social History, Robin Diaper, who is a fan, said: “She’s extremely popular, but not in the fine art world. It is quite a surprise when you see them and how bright and detailed they are. I think the reason she is popular is that people see themselves in the pictures.

“The exhibition is completely exclusive; every painting is in a private collection and people may never get to see them again.”

Cook, a “shy and private person” started painting when she was living in Southern Rhodesia and only began selling her work in the 1970s when she settled in Plymouth, its lively pubs and bars providing inspiration.

Critics panned her but there was always a waiting list for her paintings which could command up to £20,000.

Working Hard, Playing Hard: The paintings of Beryl Cook are at Hull Maritime Museum, Queen Victoria Square, Hull, until Sunday June 8. Entry is free.