Tag Archives: Grasmere

Artist’s life from Cumbria to Italy, and back again

Jean Sturgis: A Sense of Place : Paintings, Prints and Drawings

An artist with Cumbrian roots and a love of Italy will be featured at a new exhibition opening in Grasmere next month.

The Heaton Cooper Studio will host a display of paintings, drawings and etchings by Jean Sturgis who died at Kentmere two years ago.

This exhibition brings together work from across the span of her career, revealing an artist of great sensitivity with a distinct and expressive vision.

Langdale_Pikes_and_Blea_Tarn_etching_

Born Jean Nicoll, in 1931 just outside Kendal, she was the daughter of J.S. Nicoll, a Director of K shoes, who encouraged her early enthusiasm for art.

Among his friends were the artists Robin Wallace and William Wilson, and Jean, as a girl, was able work with them, since her father invited them to the family home at Staveley to lead painting courses for local children.

She studied art first at Goldsmiths College, London and then at the Slade School of Art. “It was a stimulating and challenging time,” says her artist son Daniel Sturgis. “Among her painting tutors were William Coldstream (the founder of the Euston Road Group), Patrick George, Maurice Field and L.S. Lowry. She learnt etching and print-making from the brilliant print-maker John Buckland-Wright. The emphasis of the teaching was always towards careful observation and working directly from the motif.”

In 1953, Jean was awarded a prestigious travelling scholarship that allowed her to work at the British School at Rome. Her 18 months in Italy –first in Rome, then in the little hill-top town of Anticoli Corrado – instilled in her a life-long love of the country, its art and its people.

Returning to England she settled in London, exhibiting in various shows in Edinburgh and London, including the Leicester Galleries, one the most prominent forums for post-war British painting. She also taught at Queen’s Gate School, and in mental hospitals.

In 1958 she married the architect Tim Sturgis and together they had five children. “Her dedication to family life altered the trajectory of her artistic career, but she continued to paint, and to engage with the arts in other ways,” says Daniel.

jean nicoll

Jean Sturgis was the Chief Examiner for O Level Art for the Oxford & Cambridge Examination Board, and taught art at the Westminster Under School. She also contributed acclaimed plant-drawings and watercolours to several gardening books, for authors including Rosemary Verey, Penelope Hobhouse and Esme Clarke. She contributed water-colour garden plans for books on Levens Hall, and Hatfield House, as well as for Hugh Cavendish’s A Time to Plant – Life and Gardening at Holker.

 

She returned to exhibiting in the 1990s, with a series of one-person shows in London – first at the Clarendon Gallery, and then at the Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery. In 2009 she was selected by Mary Burkett as one of five-artists in group exhibition at the Red Barn Gallery, in Melkinthorpe.

Settling in Kentmere where she developed a beautiful garden, Jean Sturgis continued both to paint and to etch. Her later works retain all their sense of engagement and particularity. She said: “Landscape; buildings in their setting, whether urban or rural; trees and flowers in their surroundings: these have always been the stimuli for my work.”

The Grasmere exhibition, created by son Daniel with the artist Julian Cooper, will open at the Heaton Cooper archive gallery on April 14, and will run until the end of June. Director of the studio, Becky Heaton Cooper, said: “This will be a fascinating insight to the life and work of a very talented artist whose work deserves wider recognition.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Classic and vintage cars heading for Lakes this summer

One of Cumbria’s most entertaining charity fundraising days returns to Grasmere this summer.

The Lakes Charity Classic Vehicle Show is organised by Windermere and Ambleside Lions to raise funds for local charities while bringing hundreds of classic and vintage vehicles from all over the country.

Last year’s event saw around 300 cars, vans, buses and motorbikes heading for the showground in the village, and raised over £10,000.

sports cars rally

The show attracts specialists and fanatics who are fascinated by the vehicles of a bygone day. Among the regular visitors is a group who call themselves “the Grumpy Old Men” who bring their cars – including an MGYB – over from Yorkshire. There is range of classic cars such as those from the BMW, Triumph and Morris Minor owners’ clubs, and a rare Brough Superior car made an appearance last year. The organisers are hoping for a visit from a 1950s double-decker Ribble bus this year.

But there’s also live music, food stalls, a beer tent and activities such as a Scalextric challenge, making the day a family highlight on the Lakes’ calendar.

This year the organisers will be supporting the Westmorland and South Lakes Group of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the Sandgate Hydrotherapy Pool in Kendal.

Multiple Sclerosis affects around 100,000 people in the UK, most being diagnosed between the ages of 20 and their late 60s. MS is a neurological condition which affects the nerves and is caused when the immune system isn’t working properly. The local society aims to help people with MS in the area by offering support and understanding. They currently have 165 members, 150 of whom are MS sufferers, with the remainder as committee members and helpers.

The Sandgate Hydrotherapy Pool was built in 1977 with donations received through public subscription for the children and adults in the community who have mental and physical health problems. The fundraising was led by members of Westmorland Mencap, who have continued their support for the Pool ever since, more latterly through the Trustees of South Lakeland Hydrotherapy Trust.

The pool offers a unique service to the population of Cumbria, as the benefits of hydrotherapy have been well known for many years, and the Kendal pool offers these benefits to swimmers and non-swimmers alike in a supportive, non-competitive environment that affords privacy.

The Lions are an international organisation with 46,000 local clubs comprising 1.4 million men and women who believe that “kindness matters”.

“Lions are changing the world one community at a time, by addressing needs at home and around the globe. And when we work together, we can achieve bigger goals,” said president Philip Fell.

“We are a vibrant and committed group of local volunteers that are always looking to meet new people, help to fundraise in their local community and most of all to have fun.”

As well as the classic car show they organise other events including the Windermere Festival, and the Jingle Bell Jog. They can often be found at local events with their bouncy castle, and helping out to fundraise for local, national and international causes.

Said Mr Fell: “The show is on Fathers’ Day this year so it will be a great way to treat your dad.”

Entries are now being taken for this year’s show which is on Sunday June 17. For more details see: http://lakesclassiccarshow.org.uk/

A Vital Spirit: the life and work of Ophelia Gordon Bell

ophelia carving JPG

A major exhibition highlighting the work of an accomplished sculptor of the 20th century opens in Grasmere  later this month.

Ophelia Gordon Bell  (1915 – 1975) is known as the wife of landscape painter William Heaton Cooper. But the new show, A Vital Spirit, aims to bring attention to her own life and extraordinary talent.

Born in London and brought up among the artists of St John’s Wood in London, Gordon Bell was equally at home in the Lake District where her maternal grandfather was vicar of Urswick near Ulverston.

Trained in London, she exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, and the Royal Scottish Academy.

Her work can be found throughout Britain, from a carving of St Bede at a Carlisle church to the giant stone figures, Thought and Action, outside the Risley HQ of the former Atomic Energy Authority in Lancashire.

Perhaps her most celebrated work is the bronze head of mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary. She also created many pieces portraying the characters of the Lakeland fells – shepherds and farmers and houndtrailers.

It was during a visit to the Lakes that met William Heaton Cooper.  They married and made their home in Grasmere and had four children. One of her sons, the painter Julian Cooper, is curating the new exhibition. He says: “She was truly a vital spirit. Everyone who met Ophelia was struck by her. Even if they did not know of her artistic skill, they were witnesses to her great vitality and kindness.

“She was a most remarkable woman, bringing together the two enormously contrasting worlds of London and the Lakes, and bringing immense vitality to everything she created.”

The exhibition will feature examples of her work as a student, as well as her industrial and religious commissions, and portrait heads.

A Vital Spirit: the work of Ophelia Gordon Bell opens at Grasmere’s Heaton Cooper Studio on May 18

 

Notes 

  • During the Second World War she drove ambulances for the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry
  • Ophelia and her mother made their home with an aunt and uncle, Dr Caleb Saleeby and his wife, Muriel,  in St John’s Wood, after Winifred and her husband divorced. Ophelia was educated at home with a governess, and was taken on chauffeur-driven grand tours of Europe. But she was equally at home on the Lakeland fells.
  • Ophelia was the daughter of Winifred Gordon Bell, a renowned animal painter.
  • One of her early works – which remains one of her most famous – was The Dalesman, made in her London studio from her memories of a man coming down the Lakeland fells to a farm. It was entered for the prestigious Prix de Rome.
  •  Ophelia’s full name was Joan Ophelia Gordon Bell.  One member of her mother’s branch of the family is always christened ‘Ophelia’ and ‘Gordon’ as appropriate, to keep the names alive. According to the family story, the original Ophelia Gordon was the only child and daughter of the 5th Duke of Gordon, who died in 1836, and she was cut off from inheriting the title when she eloped with an Englishman called Captain Sinclair in the late 18th or early 19th century. (Scottish inheritance could go to the female line.)
  •  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.

The Vital Spirit of Grasmere: The life and work of Ophelia Gordon Bell

A major exhibition highlighting the work of an accomplished sculptor of the 20th century opens in Grasmere  next month.

Ophelia Gordon Bell  (1915 – 1975) is known as the wife of landscape painter William Heaton Cooper. But the new show, A Vital Spirit, aims to bring attention to her own life and extraordinary talent.

Born in London and brought up among the artists of St John’s Wood in London, Gordon Bell was equally at home in the Lake District where her maternal grandfather was vicar of Urswick near Ulverston.

Trained in London, she exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, and the Royal Scottish Academy.

Her work can be found throughout Britain, from a carving of St Bede at a Carlisle church to the giant stone figures, Thought and Action, outside the Risley HQ of the former Atomic Energy Authority in Lancashire.

Perhaps her most celebrated work is the bronze head of mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary. She also created many pieces portraying the characters of the Lakeland fells – shepherds and farmers and houndtrailers.

It was during a visit to the Lakes that met William Heaton Cooper.  They married and made their home in Grasmere and had four children. One of her sons, the painter Julian Cooper, is curating the new exhibition. He says: “She was truly a vital spirit. Everyone who met Ophelia was struck by her. Even if they did not know of her artistic skill, they were witnesses to her great vitality and kindness.

“She was a most remarkable woman, bringing together the two enormously contrasting worlds of London and the Lakes, and bringing immense vitality to everything she created.”

The exhibition will feature examples of her work as a student, as well as her industrial and religious commissions, and portrait heads.

 

 

A Vital Spirit: the work of Ophelia Gordon Bell opens at Grasmere’s Heaton Cooper Studio on May 18

Climbing exhibition hits the heights

Pillar east faceAn art exhibition highlighting the development of rock climbing in the Lake District is proving to be a huge success in Grasmere.

Lines of Ascent features 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.

Since it opened in November at the Heaton Cooper Studio, the exhibition has drawn enthusiastic visitors from both the art and climbing worlds.

“We are thrilled by the response to the show,” said Becky Heaton Cooper, 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.

“It is one of the most successful exhibitions we have ever staged, and clearly highlights the place of the Lake District as one of Britain’s cultural capitals.”

Lines of Ascent was opened by veteran climber Al Phizacklea who took on the task of illustrating the guidebooks after William Heaton Cooper. He described his own work as “technical, with none of WHC’s artistry”.

One of Britain’s pioneer female mountaineers, Gwen Moffat, now 90, hailed Heaton Cooper’s influence as a climber and guidebook illustrator. “He was a man who knew his mountains; in his illustrations the routes are lines running up pencil-shaded rock where every crack and overhang, every buttress is correct and matched neatly to the text.”

Alongside the drawings, guides and journals are 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 of drawings and  sketches of the Grandes Jorasses from above the original Couvercle Hut, and crowded interiors of the old hut in the 1950s.

But one of the most striking works in the show is the huge oil painting of the Eiger North Face by Julian Heaton Cooper, the son of William Heaton Cooper and the sculptor Ophelia Gordon Bell. He is an internationally known painter and a member of the Alpine Club who has climbed throughout Britain and the Alps.

Lines of Ascent runs until the end of April and admission is free.

East ButtressScafell WHC

Scafell East Buttress

  • 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.

Christmas shopping? Grasmere has it wrapped at the Heaton Cooper Studio

Lake District Christmas shoppers will have the chance to buy everything they need this year in Grasmere.

The Heaton Cooper Studio offers a Christmas shopping experience which is free from crowds and canned carols. In the bright and elegant galleries can be found ideas, inspiration and gifts for friends and family which are distinctive, unusual and beautifully designed.

heaton cooper shop

Art predominates as this is the gallery of Lakeland’s most well-loved landscape painters, and the prints – or even originals – by Alfred and William Heaton Cooper have been treasured gifts for generations. But the beauty of their work permeates all the items on sale, from tiny Chinese white ceramic brush holders to huge framed masterpieces. The collection echoes the mantra of William Morris, to have “nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”.

The “useful” includes painting and activity books for children alongside calligraphy sets, watercolours and brushes, and exquisite cedarwood pencils with silver plated caps. Exclusive to the UK are the Henri Roche pastels, hand-made in Paris by the family which supplied Degas, Whistler and other leading artists.

There are distinctive hanging photo frames, candle holders, ceramics, jewellery, and a family of enchanting wire-sculpted reindeer, along with greetings cards and a small collection of antiquarian books.

The studio is open daily from 9am till 5.30 pm.

http://www.heatoncooper.co.uk

Pioneer climber Gwen Moffat on the art of Heaton Cooper

A tribute to the artist William Heaton Cooper has come from one of Britain’s pioneer female mountaineers.

Gwen Moffat, now 90, was a ground-breaking rock-climber, adventurer and first female mountain guide in the post-war years. As a new exhibition devoted to the mountain art of Heaton Cooper opens next month, Ms Moffat hailed his influence as a climber and guidebook illustrator.

“In the forties we lived to climb and everything was new, untried, unexplored,” she said.

“Guide books were essential and two compilers stood out from the rest: Edwards in Snowdonia for his idiosyncrasy, Heaton Cooper for the accuracy of his drawings in the Lakeland guides. He was a man who knew his mountains; in his illustrations the routes are lines running up pencil-shaded rock where every crack and overhang, every buttress is correct and matched neatly to the text.

“I still have those guides: over 60 years old, waterworn, mud-stained, dog-eared and annotated and still consulted to verify a date of ascent, noting how I found a route, turning to the plan to see where the next pitch went had I not retreated from the crux.”

The exhibition, Lines of Ascent, will be opened at the Heaton Cooper studio in Grasmere on November 19 by veteran climber Al Phizacklea. 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.

Gwen Moffat , who wrote a best-selling account of her adventures, Space Below My Feet, went on to write detective fiction, in particular the Miss Pink series featuring Melinda Pink, a middle aged magistrate and climber. She recalled:  “In the 1950s we discovered his paintings and by then people had just enough cash to buy prints. For many climbers the first picture in their first home was a Heaton Cooper. If guides are now little more than reference books, the mountains are part of current living. They are on the other side of the valley, at the end of the lake and through the trees, and if all else fails they are in living rooms, on walls of halls and bedrooms in innumerable homes of mountain lovers.”

She said: “Heaton Cooper is venerated, and not because he was a climber, a pioneer, a draughtsman and geologist, a man who understood the soul of rock, he was all of these and more: something between a realist and an impressionist. Light and texture are of his essence; water flows and cascades in his becks, whispers in his summer falls – you watch for the glimpse of a dipper. His rock is warm and gritty under the hands: feeling achieved by brush strokes. A sunbeam finds a hole in storm cloud to slip past the black bulk of a mountain and strike water on a shadowed tarn with a colour that is no colour but pure light.

“To term the best of his paintings sublime may be dismissed as subjective but no one can challenge nor deny me when I maintain that just one cherished Heaton Cooper can haunt the mind.”

 

 

  • 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.