Full circle as leading mountain artist returns to his Lakeland roots

The last in a trio of exhibitions of the work of Britain’s foremost living mountain artist will open in Grasmere next month (July 7).

Full Circle is a major retrospective of paintings by Julian Cooper who is returning to home territory at the Heaton Cooper Studio.

It was in the new studio there in 1969 that his father, the painter William Heaton Cooper, put on the first exhibition of work by Julian who had just graduated from Goldsmiths Art College.

Great Gable

Almost 50 years later, his work will be the first to be shown at the re-opening of the Archive Gallery at the Grasmere studio.

It follows two other big events which have marked the artist’s 70th birthday this year. A  London exhibition, Upstream, ran at  Art Space Gallery in the spring, devoted to new paintings on the theme of going upstream from Cockermouth, Cooper’s home town.

In Kendal, the Abbot Hall Art Gallery has been showing over 30 monumental paintings from Cooper’s extensive output over 45 years and reflecting the artist’s travels. While some are of the Lake District, others were inspired by journeys to South America, the Alps, the Himalayas and the quarries of Tasmania and Carrara.

The Grasmere exhibition, which will run throughout the summer, includes previously unseen work covering a range of time and subjects, will combine some urban scenes set in different European cities from the 1970’s and ’80’s, a Cumbrian landscape with figure from the 1990’s and some of the recent paintings from his London ‘Upstream’ exhibition.

Cooper’s father,  William Heaton Cooper (1903-1995) was a successful painter of the Lake District, as was his grandfather, Alfred Heaton Cooper (1863-1929), and his mother was the sculptor Ophelia Gordon Bell (1915-1975).

He studied Fine Art at Goldsmith’s College School of Art in the late 1960s. In a career spanning three decades, his work has ranged from narrative paintings based on Malcom Lowry’s novel Under the Volcano to a series of paintings about the assassination of the Brazilian union leader and environmentalist Chico Mendes in Amazonia, in 1989.

His more recent work has been concerned with finding a relevant contemporary language for painting mountains and rock. In 2001 his Mind has Mountains exhibition at the Wordsworth Trust and in London showed paintings made after an expedition to the Kanchenjunga region of Nepal; noticeable was an absence of sky and a concentration on selected areas of terrain.

His solo exhibition Cliffs of Fall in 2004 at Art Space Gallery  showed work based on a comparative study of the North Face of the Eiger in Switzerland and the Honister Slate Mine in the English Lake District.






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