Friends Membership Card
2009 (detail) Oil on canvas 137 x 107cm
Eileen Cooper RA
Introducing the new 2012 Friends Membership card, artwork courtesy of Eileen Cooper RA and Keeper of the RA Schools.
Artist Interview with Eileen Cooper RA
As a painter and print maker what aspects of these techniques drive your passion for art?
For me it’s a personal journey, that’s the drive- and it keeps me sane. Drawing underpins everything. I have been making art all my life, but it’s the use of imagery and working from imagination that I find most exciting. Of course the formal problems of making a picture work are fantastically absorbing and challenging.
There is a strong sense of linearity and figuration to you work, can you tell us a little more about what inspires you to create your art?
I am inspired by other art of course – and the natural world, figures and animals as well. I think my key themes have been sexuality, fertility and creativity, but it’s all shifting a bit again for me now. I’d like to think my work is a poetic representation of the everyday.
What artists have influenced you along your career as an artist?
Picasso, with many great themes running through his work, the diary aspect and his personal journey.
Non-western art i.e. Japanese and Indian, in particular. Tribal Art
Early Italian renaissance.
Recently I have been taking a lot of inspiration from photography.
As the Keeper of the RA Schools what does your role entail and can you tell us why the RA Schools are such a special institution?
The RA Schools are very special being the first art school in Britain (since 1768) and still going strong as a contemporary art school. We have no set house style, we respond very directly to our students. They work in many media, including painting, sculpture, video, installation and performance. In printmaking we support them both traditionally and digitally.
As Keeper of the RA Schools it is my role to promote the schools and plan for the future, for example our workshops could do with some TLC, Anyone can apply to the RA Schools and myself and our tutors do the selection. We take this very seriously and devote much of the Spring Term to it.
Could you tell us about the narrative behind the work chosen for this year’s Friends of the RA membership card ‘safe passage’?
My imagery always develops through painting, one idea leads to another and the work emerges along the way. I very much believe in ‘thinking through making’ For example, in this particular piece the figure behind the screen came towards the end. There is a whole set of relationships going on. The raft in the foreground seems to provide a protective place. I leave the meaning open for the viewer to interpret in their own way.
What do you enjoy most about the Royal Academy?
As an Academician I enjoy contact with the other Academicians, there is a pool of experience and a wealth of knowledge amongst the Royal Academicians and it’s very special to be a part of a timeline of incredible artists.
The RA Schools are producing emerging artists with a healthy disrespect for the establishment of some senior figures of the art world. What I love about the students is that they are continuously challenging each other and the staff and visitors; it feels very healthy and stimulating I am always learning with them and from them and continue to be surprised in contemporary culture.
I have huge respect and fondness for the staff of the RA; they are a very diverse, creative group of committed individuals. We have the best Christmas parties.
Is there anything you would like to say to the Friends of the Royal Academy?
The Friends of the Royal Academy are valued immensely, collectively they form the largest donor and without them we wouldn’t be able to open the doors. Everyone knows how important they are to us.
To see more of the artist's works visit Eileen Cooper RA
For further information on the Royal Academy Schools visit RA Schools
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