Are we singing about the natural wealth in our woodlands enough?

My ‘spotlight’ #twinterviews for @thebowescentre are with the “brilliant” #untitled10 exhibiting at The Bowes Museum.Sara Cooper's work is described as "profound draftsmanship," an important voice. We talk about craft and her commission.

"The drawings of Sara Cooper are the best thing I have seen in ages... such delicacy and profound draftsmanship. Her conceptual use of craft also helped inform some difficult subject matter. An inspiration... The Bowes is to be congratulated on hosting and profiling such an important voice. Her work deserves to be seen by multiple audiences." Visitor Feedback.

Sara Cooper #twinterview transcript

Thank you for joining us today Sara @scooperstudio for your lunchtime #twinterview with @talkinculture

Q1 You’re described as a ‘profound draughtsperson,’ how have your learnt, are you a self taught artist? #untitled10 @thebowesmuseum

Sara Cooper @scooperstudio A1

Thank you.

I drew at home, copying from comics and after visits to the pictures. I watched ‘Paint with Nancy’ with Mam, sketching still lives and painting with a palette knife. These were formative experiences. Drawing from observation was re-enforced by a wonderful teacher/artist, Peter Hicks. I became interested in different approaches to drawing, process and ideas. Drawing is not purely about proficiency, it’s experiential. #untitled10

Sara @scooperstudio Q2 As an artist you equally have a profound relationship with nature, how does this marry your fine art and craft skills together? #untitled10 #twinterview @talkinculture @thebowesmuseum

Sara Cooper @scooperstudio A2

I was not particularly academic but always curious about nature and enjoyed being outdoors. As I developed my practice, it made sense to respond to these sites, themes or narratives. There’s an emphasis on conceptual practice over making in fine art. I’m interested in exploring making as a way of thinking. Many of these processes involve craft or heritage skills. It’s the context that changes. #untitled10

Sara @scooperstudio Q3 How untold has the natural heritage of @thebowesmuseum been in your view in both the direct environment and museum archive? #twinterview #untitled10 @talkinculture

Sara Cooper @scooperstudio A3 

The archives contain records of design and planting of parkland, there may be more poetic clues as to its cultivation and use. Also references within the collection. I would use the word ‘unsung’. Loads more potential! John & Josephine were passionate collectors of tree specimens and the legacy of Mary Eleanor is echoed here. The woodland is incredibly rich in wildlife, 4 nuthatches spotted in one 20minute visit!

Sara @scooperstudio Q4 Your #untitled10 work inspired by @thebowesmuseum woodland has also captured the monkey puzzle tree legacy story. What statements or awareness do you hope your charcoal making and wood prints will make? #twinterview @talkinculture

Sara Cooper @scooperstudio A4

The charcoal making was attempt to explore a wood related heritage craft and to highlight our current dependence on carbon economies, and the urgent need to make a shift to more renewable forms of energy. Monkey puzzles once a source of livelihood for indigenous peoples in Chile, now heavily logged for fine knot-free timber. Thinking about strength and delicacy, the wood and the paper. More of the prints later …! #untitled10

Sara @scooperstudio Q5 How would you like to see @thebowesmuseum deepen the visitor experience with its natural heritage and associated archive? #untitled10 #twinterview @talkinculture

Sara Cooper @scooperstudio A5

Local people enjoy ownership of the woodland, use this knowledge and share. More commissions - scientists, artists and gardeners. Wildflower cultivation, sculpture in the woodland, outdoor workshops, seasonal wonder! #untitled10

Thank you very much Sara @scooperstudio for your #twinterview with @talkinculture today. Followers you can see more of Sara’s work here: The #untitled10 2019 are in exhibition @thebowesmuseum until Feb 28th.

Sara Cooper @scooperstudio Many thanks for having me along. For interest, I came across this research project into Monkey Puzzle trees Looking forward to sharing prints inspired by #MP125  

Paula Moore, Director of Talkin’ Culture is interested in how access to arts and museum spaces can be widened to far wider audiences through different entry points and with alternative visitor experience routes. I believe traditional museum experiences are often too static, austere and often rigidly academic failing to respond as a public service. I hope you enjoy the #twinterviews and artist insights to explore this further.

Header Image Credit: Sara Cooper

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