Local Face: Gladys Crook

  |  Published: Oct 1st 1997

Wendover is home to many artists and one of the best known and best loved must be Gladys Crook. Her work is on display daily in local card shops and originals are easily obtained at local art exhibitions.

Gladys is a great enthusiast for Art Exhibitions. She is delighted that so many people come and enjoy looking at the paintings and that the organisers benefit from any sales. In November, Wendover Middle School will hold its 13th annual art exhibition. Gladys benefited greatly from the encouragement of her own teachers and was a teacher herself so she is always ready to help the good cause of educating the young, particularly as textbooks, computers and other materials are so expensive.

Her own background was an amazing contrast of London schooling and wonderfully romping holidays at her paternal Grandparents in a tiny hamlet in Devon. The influence of rural idyll is clearly evident in all her work. She searches for an appropriate plant growing in the foreground of any composition.

Gladys grew up at the time of London County Council scholarships for gifted children and this is how she came to attend the well respected St Martin's School of Art. Under Muriel Pemberton there was a great emphasis on design and particularly the cutting of cloth. Many ideas concerning design which appeared revolutionary at the time are now part of our everyday ambience.

For eight years, Gladys worked as a commercial artist for an advertising house, specialising in fashion. She described this as her bread and butter while she still continued Fine Art for personal interest and exhibiting. She has been hung at the Royal Academy and frequently at the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour, the Society of Woman Artists and the West of England Academy. As a watercolourist, she is concerned about the durability of her product, particularly the purples and blues, so she searches out only the best materials.

Gladys came to Wendover in 1947 with a three month old baby. Her husband's work brought her here. Waddesdon born, he was delighted to be returning to Buckinghamshire. She found it very difficult to paint with a small baby and only entered a few exhibitions in London.

In the mid-Fifties, Ernest Baulk, an artist and Wendover Scoutmaster, organised a painting exhibition with the help of Basil Purssell, a Bucks Newspaper Artist. The artists of Wendover discovered one another and decided to meet regularly so Wendover Art Club was formed. Meanwhile, Gladys had obtained a General Diploma so that she could teach 8 to 10 year olds which she loved doing for 21 years at Prebendal School in Aylesbury. When it closed, she moved to Aylesbury College and thoroughly enjoyed teaching adults at evening classes. Two of her students had noticed that there were no cards of paintings of the Buckinghamshire countryside and asked Gladys if she could supply some. "Wendover Woods" really took off and the rest, as they say, is history. There are now 24 cards and calendars as well. The National Trust, through the card firm, Cuckoo Fair, commissioned Gladys to paint Waddesdon Manor, 300 print limited edition, and Mrs Rothschild bought the original. Disraeli's Hughenden Manor was commissioned as well and sold as a card. When the Princess Royal came to Aylesbury, Gladys was asked to paint the Market Square as a gift and was closely cross-questioned about composition and perspective. This meeting led to an invitation to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party. The late Princess of Wales had another Gladys Crook original commemorating the opening of part of the Springhill Farm Centre at Dinton.

If you too would like to buy one of Gladys' paintings, don't miss the Wendover Middle School Art Exhibition, Wharf Road,10am to 4pm, Sat 22nd, Sun 23rd November, 1997.

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