Julian Cooper is the embodiment of the Heaton Cooper artistic dynasty, born in Grasmere in 1947, it was almost inevitable that the son of landscape painter Willian Heaton Cooper and sculptor Ophelia Gordon Bell would follow in their accomplished footsteps.
As a dot, he would accompany his father on his almost daily jaunts into the fells and frequent overnight stays in Fell and Rock Climbing Club bothies as he created line drawings for the FRCC guidebooks he illustrated.
Julian, fascinated by this precise nature of his father’s work, would in turn sketch his own simple versions in his ever present sketchbook. So like father like son, Julian in turn became fixated by the many flaws and idiosyncrasies in the rock scape of the Lakeland fells – figuratively drawn to the grooves, cracks, chimneys, and screes of the surrounding fells – becoming a ‘cragger’ in his own right to get even closer to his beloved subject matter.
1964 saw him in attendance at the Lancaster School of Art at the Storey Institute, and by late 1965 he was firmly ensconced at Goldsmith’s University School of Art, exploring his then fascination with abstraction and colour field art.
As his studies progressed he became firmly enraptured by the work of abstract expressionist artists, such as Kooning, Carone, Rothko and Still and began experimenting with how best to combine the spontaneous abstract images he was creating whilst seeking to maintain the vitality and expressiveness of what he was seeking to depict.
Julian is prolific his creative output spans over half a century, but during that time he has constantly strived to develop his work and the themes. The first phase revolves around abstraction, before moving into the figurative phase incorporating social, political, historical and literary subjects. Since then his work has evolved further, examining the texture, light, shadow and obvious irregularity of mountainscapes across the world.
Now back in the Lake District, he has come full circle, re-examining the depiction of the obvious constant in his life, the Lakeland fells that he grew up with and started depicting as a boy on the many forays into their fastness with his father.