Born in Dublin, Michael Cooper studied at Heatherley’s School of Art between 1969 and 1971, and then under Anthony Grey. Working in a variety of different mediums including marble, stone and bronze it is the nature of the material that lends itself to Cooper’s flowing harmonies of surface and so seductively suggests the power and grace of the natural world.
The reductive technique of carving means that mass and gravity are ever present and this is well-suited to the nature of what Cooper depicts. Indeed the essential character of his subjects are allowed to materialise through the slow process of chipping away at blocks of untraceable stone. Irresistibly tactile, Cooper’s surfaces attract the sense of touch as much as the visual caress. Talking about his making process Cooper says:
I experienced at times a feeling that something had been achieved which was correct and harmonious, almost in spite of myself. It was like a dimension that I could only glimpse. These moments were most apparent when I was working on sculpture. There would be times when some other faculty seemed to be working, allowing me to see other aspects of the work and achieve a result often quite different to what I had planned. As I carved a block of stone, it became possible to harmonise with the material and work in partnership with it rather than in conflict. The physical effort of carving and the concentration required produce a very precise focus, suspending the usual thought process and allowing another part of me to function.
Cooper has exhibited at a wide variety of venues since 1974, including Jersey and London Zoos, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the Royal Academy. His ability to depict the sheer force of the animals and figures he sculpts has led to various large scale public and private commissions, including two bears carved in Belgian Fossil marble for Bicester Village, Oxfordshire, and a reclining figure carved in travertine marble for Covent Garden. Cooper is a fellow of the Royal British Society of Sculptors and lives and works in Buckinghamshire.