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Jean Cooke
Delight in the Thing Seen
24.05.2017-10.09.2017

Jean Cooke RA (1927-2008) was an artist with a profoundly personal view of the world who found joy and inspiration in the everyday. She has been described as having created some of the most fiercely original and moving self-portraits in Modern British Art, and is critically acclaimed as a colourist.

This exhibition celebrates Cooke’s unique, quirky, lyrical vision, drawing together works that explore the different aspects of her artistic practice.

Training in a range of media including sculpture, illustration, textile design and pottery, Cooke focused on painting at the encouragement of artists Carel Weight RA (1908-1997) and John Bratby RA (1928-1992). 

Cooke said ‘Everything that happens when I open my eyes [each morning] is a surprise. It’s like dying and coming alive again every day’. When asked why she painted, Cooke replied: ‘It is some sort of love, some sort of devotion. More nun-like than a devouring of life, but still an untiring use of eyes and mind to concoct images... a continuous delight in the thing seen.’

Cooke studied at the Central School, Camberwell School of Art, Goldsmith’s College and the Royal College of Art, where she later worked as a lecturer in painting. She was also President of the Blackheath Art Society, Governor of the Central School of Art and Design, a member of the Council of the Royal Academy, and elected RA in 1972. Her work has been exhibited at Tate, the Royal Academy, Dulwich Picture Gallery, and Pembroke Art Gallery at Oxford University, and is held in prominent private and public collections, including the Royal College of Art, Royal Academy and Tate.

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Please note that photography of the exhibition is not permitted.

Image: Jean Cooke, Sofas Galorec. 1980s © artists estate. Courtesy Piano Nobile, Robert Travers (Works of Art) Ltd.