Artist in Residence: Eileen Cooper

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MOJEH speaks to Eileen Cooper about her upcoming exhibit Under the Same Moon at Letitia Gallery, Beirut.

 

What inspired you to become an artist?

I was lucky to be encouraged to draw from a young age, first by my mother, then by teachers at primary and secondary schools. Through a direct grant system I was able to afford to study at art school in the 1970s. Through education, a whole world opened up to me and I gradually believed that I could have a life as an artist.

Tell us about the inspiration behind Under the Same Moon.

My first visit to Beirut was a whirlwind trip, it was only on my return that I began to consider this experience and the possibility of painting about it.

The title, ‘Under the Same Moon’ captures, I hope, a sense of universality and global connection, looking back through history and with a strong geographic and cross-cultural connection.

Tell us about your experience in Lebanon.

I think places are, to some extent, defined by the people one meets and the opportunities to learn and to share experiences. This was my experience in Beirut and the surrounding area. Through exhibiting at Letitia Gallery, I have begun to form relationships with other artists within the region. It’s very exciting to have this opportunity for cultural exchange, I’m always keen to learn from others.

What do you hope to achieve with Under the Same Moon?

I hope that in making this new work I have engaged with and understood some aspects of the history and culture I experienced in Lebanon. However, I’m delighted it’s ongoing, so let’s see what happens.

What kind of themes dominate your artwork and why?

Female identity, relationships, motherhood, family, creativity and the natural world are all big themes for me.

What do you have in store for 2018?

I have another trip planned to Lebanon in March. I’ll be exhibiting at the Royal Academy of Arts in London as usual in the Summer Exhibition, which has a huge audience, and I have a solo show in the UK in September.

I also have a few new woodcuts and linocuts that I am working on. Printmaking is as much part of my work as painting and drawing, it’s a far more collaborative way to work and it’s a nice contrast from locking oneself away in the more private space of the studio.

Making new work will always be central to my life.

Eileen Cooper: Under the Same Moon at Letitia Gallery, Beirut, Until April 1

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