Beryl Bainbridge – Author and painter

On Easter Monday we went over to Liverpool to have a look at the exhibition of paintings by Beryl Bainbridge being shown at the Liverpool Museum until the end of April.

Beryl Bainbridge is a well known author, nominated five times for the Booker Prize, although she never won it during her lifetime. She died of cancer in July 2010 and two years later was posthumously awarded a special honour by the Booker Prize committee. But she had other artistic talents. She started out as an actress, even appearing in Coronation Street, albeit in a minor role. And she was a prolific painter.

This exhibition brings together a small selection of her paintings, 15 in all. The subjects included family and friends, the Titanic, Captain Scott’s journey to the South Pole and, rather bizarrely, Napoleon. They’re figurative paintings, but with abstract elements. They’re mainly oils, but she used mixed media too as can be seen in one of the Titanic paintings which incorporate photographs of people cut from magazines used to represent passengers on the ship and in a lifeboat. The occupants of the lifeboat include a young Adolf Hitler (one of her novels was “Young Hitler”) and Dr Johnson. Martin Wainwright, on the Guardian website compares some of the paintings to early 20th century German art, the work of Beckmann or Grosz, and I think he certainly has a point.

No photos were allowed, but there is a selection of the paintings that can be viewed on the Guardian website here, and a set of photographs taken at the exhibition on the Museum’s Flickr site

My favourites included the small painting of Napoleon featured on the exhibition poster and the book by , a couple of the Titanic related pictures (Boarding the Titanic, 1992 and The Titanic and lifeboat)   and a couple of the paintings featuring Captain Scot’s expedition.

Painting of man in uniform and a naked woman dancing in a flat by a window


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