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Guest lecture notes:

Our first major loans exhibition, which featured works from the RA, Piano Nobile Gallery, a number of private collections, and our own collection. Our decision to host the very first exhibition of husband and wife painters, John Bratby and Jean Cooke, was inspired by a surprise discovery of Bratby's portrait of Cooke hidden in our library.

Interview with Jean Cooke:

Title: ‘Someone to Paint’: John Bratby and Jean Cooke at Home


Abstract: John Bratby and Jean Cooke lived and worked together from 1953 for around 20 years. Their art focuses on their home, allowing viewers to trace the developments of their lives as they come: house moves, the birth and early years of their children, the food and goods they bought and consumed, and the people that came in and out of their lives at this time. Additionally, and perhaps crucially, their subjects were often each other. This paper will address how their home, their relationship, and selfhood were such important subjects for Bratby and Cooke. By placing the artists in their post-war context – where the nuclear family was emphasised as a prominent social ideal with built in assumptions about gender roles – this paper will examine how Bratby and Cooke’s representations allowed them to negotiate their experiences and selfhood from within the home.


Bio: Greg Salter is currently teaching fellow in art history at Queen Mary, University of London. Since completing his PhD, titled ‘Domesticity and Masculinity in 1950s British Painting’, at UEA in 2013, he has worked as post-doctoral researcher at the Geffrye Museum of the Home in London, and taught at the Courtauld Institute of Art. His research interests focus on post-war British art and the study of home, drawing out their connections to gender, sexuality, migration, and the nation.

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