Ambitious plans for expansion and a new café have been unveiled at a leading tourist attraction in Grasmere.
The Heaton Cooper Studio, one of Cumbria’s most distinguished galleries and the pre-eminent centre for landscape art in the Lake District, is to be extended to create new exhibition space, room for artists’ workshops, and a stylish café. Work will begin on the project in the new year.
The studio was established on the village centre site when William Heaton Cooper, the second generation of the dynasty of artists, built the present gallery in 1938. The family art business had been established by his father, Alfred Heaton Cooper, in 1904.
Now the current managing director, Becky Heaton Cooper, is supervising the expansion plans. “We will create a wonderful extension to our gallery which will have glorious views out to the fells and to Stone Arthur,” she said. “There will be more space to run workshops for artists and we want to create somewhere really inspiring for them to work.”
Once the project is completed and the café opens, it is hoped that more jobs will be created for local people.
In recent years the scope and range of the studio has been extended considerably with the opening of the archive gallery, which has hosted a number of high-profile visiting exhibitions, showcasing the work of local, regional, national and international artists, and significant additions to the goods sold in the art and gift shop. The studio sells fine art prints – framed or mounted – and books about the Heaton Coopers and other Lakeland artists, as well as books about Cumbria and mountains generally.
The studio also celebrates the work of other artists in the family, notably William’s wife Ophelia Gordon Bell, the sculptor famed for her head of Everest pioneer Sir Edmund Hillary, and their son Julian Cooper, the internationally renowned painter whose recent work has been concerned with finding a relevant contemporary language for painting mountains and rock.
“The studio is a lively centre of artistic excellence and activity, representing a tradition of artistic continuity in the village ,” said Becky. “We hope that our new extension will make it an even more attractive place to visit.”
The Heaton Cooper Studio in Grasmere was opened by William Heaton Cooper in 1938. The Lake District Centre for the Interpretation of Landscape, the Heaton Cooper studio was one of the original stakeholders in the LDNP bid for World Heritage Site status. 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.