FEATURED MEMBER – Michelle Pearson Cooper

Posted on February 15, 2011




Michelle Pearson Cooper is an artist whose drawings and bronze castings have been exhibited publicly in London, Palm Beach and Marrakech, as well as being held privately by individuals such as HRH the King of Bahrain, Bruce Oldfield, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, Mahdi Al Tajir and Tom Stoppard.


She studied at the independent Millfield School in Somerset, being awarded a prestigious arts scholarship, as well as working in Florence under Signorina Simi.

Her work has been inspired by her travels in India, Africa, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, particularly the wildlife and the solitude of the wilderness.


Q.  What initially motivated you to pursue your art?
A.  I was fortunate enough to be born with a talent that I recognised at a very early age, which I pursued and have found rewarding and therapeutic ever since. A large watershed was recognising that there was no space between the sky and land at the age of seven, and painting what I observed.

Q.  You worked in Florence with Signorina Simi. Can you tell us more about this?
A.  After completing my A-levels I spent three months learning the art of draftmanship intensively under a woman who I had the utmost respect for and whose pupils included Pietro Annigoni, who in my opinion painted the best portrait of the Queen, which hangs in the Fishmongers Hall.

Q.  Are there any other artists who particularly influence you?
A.  The Renaissance painters, such as Titian, Michaelangelo, Lovis Corinth, Edwin Landseer, Raoul Millais, John Singer Sargent, the Glasgow Boys especially John Lavery James Guthrie, for their style and use of paint and movement. Lucy Kemp-Welch and Alfred Munnings for their depictions of horses.

Q.  Have your travels have provided inspiration for you, and if so how has this inspiration manifested itself in your work?
A.  Very much so. Earlier in my murals with the classic Tuscan and Umbrian landscapes dotted with Cyprus trees typical in Italy and more recent years, deserts. A 100 mile walk across the Jordanian desert was a big inspiration with the colours of the landscape ever changing from Amman via the Dead Sea to Petra, with the scattered Bedouin tribes. Libya, the blues worn by the Tuarag of the Sahara, the bright tassles of the festival camels and the Meewah horses being traded at the Pushkar Camel Fair.

Q.  Wildlife is a recurring presence in your work. Why is this?
A.  I have an affinity with animals. I have grown up with dogs and cats, learnt to ride horses as a young girl but prefer riding camels! I have recently spent more time in South Africa and Namibia, especially around large cats and walking cheetahs which helps me study their movements for my large charcoals.

Q.  Is there any work you are particularly proud of?
A.  The theory is that your last work should be your best. I am ever-striving for that to be the case! A bronze of a life-size Saker Falcon sitting on my actual glove that I cast I count as being a good example of my sculptures. I am left-handed and hence feed the bird with the same hand & not many birds will fly to a right glove, such as this, but one that does is in Sakhir Palace, home to the King of Bahrain. I like my charcoal drawings of cheetahs and there are two large oil canvases of King Cheetah at the Reading Stadium Hotel.

Q.  What do you hope to achieve in the coming year?
A.  To achieve a life-long ambition to research and improve beyond my greatest expectations. I am now working with pigments that I grind to make my own paint, working on an oil prepared or gesso surface with oil glazes to achieve a more translucent effect, painting from my imagination but set in landscapes visited in my travels from Iceland to Arizona.

Q.  How do you hope Pelime can help with this?
A.  Exposure to people who take a considered view of the spirit of my work



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