Perfume, 2016 by Eileen Cooper RA OBE
Oil on canvas
76 x 107 cm "I grew up in the Derbyshire peaks and their moody landscapes and dramatic weather remain my touchstone for nature. There was a freedom there but since I left for the city at the age of 18, my experience of nature has been seen through the eyes of an urban dweller. Here, cut flowers, parks and gardens are my natural world. I would say that my access to the wide spaces of nature is irregular now, and for me, and many of us who live in the city, we can become overwhelmed by its beauty and vastness. I have long been fascinated with flowers and often bring them into my studio to examine and paint. They are symbolic throughout art history, which is something I examine a lot in my work and the idea of their relationship to creativity, fertility and sexuality.
My painting, Perfume, for Good Nature not only shows the flowers in their full beauty, with their long, cut green stems and open red rose and white lily petals but also how they are bursting out of the vase, uncontained, almost wrapped around the female figure. Whilst she is entranced with their scent and beauty, I sense that she is possibly unsure about their abundance and slightly threatening presence. There is a superficial sweetness in this image but, perhaps, like the natural world, this demonstrates the balance between us containing nature but also the power of the flower. "
Eileen Cooper RA OBE was born in 1953 and studied at the Royal College of Art and Goldsmiths University of London. Eileen has exhibited in the British Museum, Imperial College, the Arts Council Collection and the V&A. Elected a royal academician in 2001, in 2011 Eileen Cooper became the first woman to be appointed ‘keeper’ of the Royal Academy of Arts since it’s inception. She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2016 Birthday Honours for services to the arts and arts education.
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