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This article is taken from PN Review 150, Volume 29 Number 4, March - April 2003.

Julian Cooper: Rock, Snow and Alchemy Grevel Lindop

It's ten-thirty on a bright, cold spring day as I drive into the yard of a bleak industrial estate two miles from Kendal. It looks deserted, but the signboard lists J. Cooper along with the motor body repair shop, the outdoor clothing warehouse and the furniture restorer, so I crawl on over the bumpy concrete until Cooper himself looms up and gets into the car to guide me. His studio is round the back, a long shed with big sliding doors that need a heave to open them.

Inside is a huge hangar-like space, the walls lined with innumerable canvases, the ceiling covered with yellow spray-on insulation punctuated by corrugated perspex skylights. An industrial heater rumbles in a corner. I notice a mountain bike, a row of paint-crusted tables covered with pots, jars, sketchbooks, photographs, papers; and on the end wall, facing us and dominating the space with its vast, alluring expanse of misty light, Kanchenjunga, North Face, one of the mountain paintings which have been Julian Cooper's preoccupation for the past seven years.

Cooper is blessed and cursed with being the third generation of a Lakeland dynasty. His grandfather, Alfred Heaton Cooper, was a post-Impressionist landscape painter of rugged power; his father, W. Heaton Cooper, a topographical painter in the tradition of Francis Towne. To my taste, W. Heaton's landscapes look pallid and formulaic, but Julian is loyal about his father, affirming his brilliance as a teacher. None the less, his own work has ...


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