Veteran climber to open Lakes mountain art exhibition

Veteran climber Al Phizacklea is to open a major mountaineering art exhibition in Grasmere next month.

The Lakeland cragsman will officially open Lines of Ascent at the Heaton Cooper Studio on Wednesday November 19. The event will launch the Kendal Mountain Film Festival which follows all weekend.

Lines of Ascent will feature the work William Heaton Cooper produced for the Fell and Rock Climbing Club guides for 50 years from 1930s onwards. The books were bibles for the climbing community, showing new routes as they developed, drawn on site and working closely with the climbers at the crag face.

Phizacklea succeeded Heaton Cooper as the illustrator of the FRCC guidebooks.

Alongside the drawings, guides and journals will be climbing photographs from the 1930s and 1940s from Heaton Cooper’s private album, as well as some of his paintings that reference the mid-twentieth century climbing scene, including some not seen before.

There is also an Alpine sketch-book full of vivid drawings and  sketches of the Grandes Jorasses from above the original Couvercle Hut, and crowded interiors of the old hut in the 1950s.

The Alpine theme at the exhibition will be extended with Julian Cooper’s huge oil painting  Eiger Face, shown alongside images of the famous 1938 first ascent and subsequent routes up the North Face of the Eiger.

The exhibition will be curated by Julian Cooper, William’s son, and Becky Heaton Cooper, William’s grand-daughter and Julian’s niece.

Becky Heaton Cooper is a director and general manager of the business established by the landscape painter Alfred Heaton Cooper in 1905. His son William built the present gallery in Grasmere in 1938. For generations their paintings and books have influenced the way the landscape of the Lake District has been viewed.

Julian Cooper said: “I’m very pleased and honoured that Al Phizacklea has agreed to open this exhibition. As the Fell and Rock illustrator who succeeded Heaton Cooper, and a guidebook writer himself, he knows the territory as well as anyone

Phizacklea, who set up many new routes in the Lakes, once wrote: “Sometimes, at the end of a hot day, you get a moment of light from the sun that seems to make the whole view glow, and you realise that it’s those moments that the artist Heaton Cooper always painted, a beautiful ethereal moment in time.”


  • The Heaton Cooper Studio in Grasmere was opened by William Heaton Cooper in 1938.    It is a hugely popular tourist attraction, with more than 90,000 visitors last year. It features work by the Heaton Cooper family and guest artists, with the Lakeland landscape at the heart of the gallery’s displays.


  • The Heaton Cooper family tree is a pictorial essay on the development of art in the Lake District and beyond. There are 10 artists represented, including the sculptor Ophelia Gordon Bell, (herself the daughter of the animal painter Winifred Gordon Bell) and Julian Cooper, the internationally renowned painter whose recent work has been concerned with finding a relevant contemporary language for painting mountains and rock all over the world. The most well known works are by Alfred and William, each distinctively capturing the magnificence and beauty of rock and fell, stream and lake.


  • Julian Cooper, the son of William Heaton Cooper and the sculptor Ophelia Gordon Bell, is an internationally known painter, represented by Art Space Gallery, London. He is a member of the Alpine Club, and has climbed throughout Britain and the Alps.







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