© Barry Cooper 2018

Artist statement

I have been working as a painter since 1970 and have had several one-person shows in London through the early and mid 1980s. In the autumn of 1984 I undertook a year‘s Artist in Residence programme at Frome Community College that began my interest in stone sculpture.

 

In 1985, at the age of 40, I began an MA degree in the painting at the Royal College of Art studying with Peter de Francia and John Golding who was a leading authority on Cubism.

 

In 1989 with John Fisher (Principal of Frome Community College) I put forward a concept for a monumental international Community Sculpture project to create a local parliament of stone on the piece of grass outside the Merlin Theatre, collaborating with the sculptor Laurence Knee.

 

Twelve monoliths, one from each of the original nations of the European Community, were imported onto the site and an amphitheatre built as a forum for young people to celebrate friendship, artistic collaboration and peaceful coexistence.

 

In my painting I have retained an interest in the fragmentation of the image which I continue to find in a fractal space created through planes and elisions inherited from Cubism. Whilst always yearning for a minimalist  simplicity the noise of the outside world continuously breaks in.

 

The dominance of the unrepeatable mark is a constant; exploring the three dimensional through the layering of paint. The fourth dimension of time in painting, collaborating with musicians, has always been present and is extended in live improvisations. Performing with jazz pianist John Law explored that space found in earlier monochromatic abstractions.

 

Chaos is never far from the surface; surrounded by the destruction of life in the wider world and viewed from the perspective of the comparative paradise that has been my lifetime in the UK since 1945.

 

Through my frequent working visits to the Greek island of Paros since 1998, under the influence of Cycladic and Minoan culture, I continue to make sculpture in clay which reflects a fecund iconography that has also been a consistent undercurrent in my painting over the years.

Biography 

1945          

  • Born 4th November at Warren Row, near Maidenhead

1968-71     

  • Philosophy degree, Bangor University, North Wales

1972          

  • Began painting, Glasinfryn, near Bangor, North Wales

1975          

  • One person exhibition in collaboration with Ballet Rambert, Roundhouse, Chalk Farm

1980          

  • One person exhibition, October Gallery, Holborn, London

1982         

  • '7 years of Ballet Rambert' exhibition, National Theatre, London. 'Nuclear Family' painting travels to Nairobi for 10th anniversary of Stockholm UN peace conference

1983           

  • One person exhibition, October Gallery, Holborn, London

1984           

  • Artist in Residence, Frome Community College, Somerset                   

  • 'Merlin's Minstrel' sculpture commission for Lord Bath, Longleat Estate, Wiltshire                            

  • 'Kites' installation and performance with composer Simon Holt, Bath Festival

           

1985-87     

  • MA in painting, Royal College of Art, London, studying with John Golding and Peter De Francia

                     

1988-92     

  • International Community Sculpture ECOS, designed with Laurence Knee and built in collaboration with a wide                  cross section of the community of Frome

                                

1990-91     

  • Artist in Residence, Christ's Hospital School, Sussex

1993-94     

  • 'Moonbathing' sculpture commission for Lord Bath, Longleat Estate, Wiltshire                    

1995-97    

  • 'Serendipity', 'Songs of the Stones', 'Hieroglyphs', installations with composer Nigel Osborne in Edinburgh Festival (Demarco European Arts Foundation and St Mary's old school) and with the ECOS project Frome with 72 Fromeschool children (for Channel 4 Schools)

1998          

  • 'Aerolith', cromlech flight image, with David Cook test pilot and aircraft designer, working with St. John's 1st School, Frome   

  •  'Our Lady of the Mendips' stone sculpture trail with poet Shaun

  • Jackson in Collett park, Shepton Mallet, funded by the Poetry Society

1999         

  • 'Syrens' waymarkers created with musician/artist Laurence Parnell for the Wells to Glastonbury Sustrans route                   

  • 'Round and Round' performance with composer Helen Ottaway and video artist Al Morrison for the Salisbury Festival

                  

2000         

  • 'ECOS 2000' Millennium-funded 'Virtual Festival' linking 12 locations in Europe and including a ‘Community Spectacular’ by Parachute Theatre Company, Frome, Somerset

                                  

2001         

  • 'Genesis' song/poems in paint and stone with Parian sculptor Aristides Varrias, Hellenic Centre, London                    

  • 'Priddy village entrance stones’ designed with children from Priddy Primary School, Somerset

                    ​

2002         

  • 'Pathways in Stone' boundary stones with Jim Shiner at Aldeby village, Suffolk

                    ​

2003-04     

  • 'Tree of Life' 4 metre-high stone tree surrounded by 11 Holm oak trees and 12 dancing figures on ECOS amphitheatre site, Frome

                    

2004         

  • 'Dance of Eros and Thanatos' installation with environmental artist Cameron Hockenson, Paros, Greece

                    ​

2004-11   

  • Artist in residence, Hellenic International Studies in the Arts School, Paros, Greece

                    ​

2005         

  • 'Healing stone' for entrance of new West Mendip hospital, Glastonbury, Somerset

                    ​

2006         

  • 'Black & White' duets for piano/paint with composer Helen Ottaway

  • 'Keeper of the Gate' sculpture commission for the playground, Mells Primary School, Somerset

                    ​

2007         

  • 'Golden Bough' and 'Last 9 Songs of Archilochos' sculpture installations, Bishop's Palace, Wells, Somerset

                   ​

2008         

  • 'Layers' exhibition of paintings with music by composer Helen Ottaway, Weaving Shed Silk Mill, Frome

                   ​

2009         

  • 'Prosopo' painting commission for library, Royal United Hospital, Bath

  • 'Settlement' Neolithic sculpture stone-wood-walls-hearth with artist Anthony Rogers as part of Robert Golden's 'Home'

                    ​

2010-11   

  • ‘River of Life’ and ‘Graffiti Wall’, installations for ‘Home in Frome' Festival with artists Anthony Rogers and Tom Sturgess

2011         

  • 'Duets' paintings from music with Ray Toll in collaboration with the Stroke Association

                   ​

2012         

  • 'SpaceTime', an exploration in Piano and Paint, improvised performances with international jazz pianist John Law

                    ​

2013          

  • ECOS 21st Anniversary Exhibition Merlin Theatre Frome

2014          

  • ‘Sonata’ Exhibition of paintings derived from Bèla Bartòk’s Sonata for solo violin in Stoney street Studios Frome Festival

                   ​

2015          

  • ‘Last Tree Dreaming’ – Stourhead Gardens and Frome College

  • ‘Cycladic/Minoan Marriage’ – Frome Festival Open Studios

2016         

  • ‘Párodise’ an exhibition in the Round Tower Black Swan Gallery Frome with Croatian Photographer Mirjana Grgure                

  • Workshops and Installation of Last Tree Dreaming at the entrance to Frome College Frome Somerset with Anthony Rogers (Sculptor), Azeema Caffoor (Youth Worker), Helen Moore (Eco-Poet) and Grant Gellatly (Engineer)

                                                              

2017         

  • ‘Unclothed’ exhibition in the Dimitrakopoulos Arts Centre Paroikia Paros Greece with Croatian Photographer Mirjana Grgurevic

  • ‘Hard Rain’ open studio in the Frome Festival

2018         

  • ‘Birth Rites’ exhibition in Centrespace Gallery, Bristol