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Amy Azelda Cooper

Amy Azelda Cooper, ‘Holey Planet and Friends’.three porcelain lamps, 2007

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Amy Azelda Cooper, ‘Holey Planet and Friends’.
three porcelain lamps, 2007

Jo Wilson explores the work of ceramicist and sculptor Amy Cooper, in particular her successful balance between business and creativity.

Introduction

Graduating in 2002 with a BA in Ceramics and Sculpture from Wolverhampton, Amy Cooper has increasingly divided her practice between ‘bread and butter’ porcelain work, and a more creatively stimulating sculptural output, with overwhelming success in both areas. Her porcelain creations have led to shows home and abroad, and an award from Craftsman magazine. At the same time, her sculptural work has found an audience in the public realm; her original brickwork, Community Seat is at Broomhill Sculpture Gardens, Devon.

Amy extols the benefits of working with others; she is a member of artists’ exhibiting group The Contemporary Gallery, and member and secretary of Red Herring studios. Both provide day-to-day interaction with artists and member-led discussion on practice. Rather than treading a defined career path, experience has provoked self-confidence in her work, and of the choices that she makes. “On the whole, by not having definitive objectives I think I have allowed myself go with the flow and take each opportunity on its own merit.”

Amy Azelda Cooper, ‘Crazed Wallfish’.wall light, 2007

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Amy Azelda Cooper, ‘Crazed Wallfish’.
wall light, 2007

Amy Azelda Cooper, ‘Armchair sculpture’.finished but unfired brick armchair, 2007

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Amy Azelda Cooper, ‘Armchair sculpture’.
finished but unfired brick armchair, 2007

Amy Azelda Cooper, ‘The last day of Amy's carving demonstration at Art in Clay’.National Pottery and Ceramics Festival, 2006

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Amy Azelda Cooper, ‘The last day of Amy's carving demonstration at Art in Clay’.
National Pottery and Ceramics Festival, 2006

Profile

Amy Cooper graduated in 2001 with a BA in Ceramics and Sculpture from Wolverhampton.

Six years on, she is Brighton-based, with two clearly defined strands to her work. By judging her own position in each market, Amy has found overwhelming success in both.

With Amy Cooper Ceramics, Amy successfully makes and sells porcelain lamps, with an impressive list of stockists from Glasgow to the Isle of Wight nationally, Germany and the Netherlands. Amy’s lighting is currently for sale at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, to coincide with exhibition ‘Surreal Things: Surrealism and Design’ (until 22 July 2007), and soon to be on show at ‘Art in Clay’ and Origin. This is the work that Amy is known for and has become the “bread and butter” of her existence.

It is the success of this more orthodox and business-focused making that gives rise to a more experimental and creative sculptural practice. Recently, she has found a home for some of her larger creations in the public realm; her original brickwork, Community Seat was installed recently at Broomhill Sculpture Gardens, Devon.

The division of her practice and ability to prioritise her work within both strands is key to Amy’s success. With a string of around thirty suppliers of her porcelain work, for example, Amy has the confidence to make judgements on when not to accept another exhibition or show. In this sense, Amy has an effective handle on the concept of supply and demand; the need to utilise the marketing benefits of exhibiting, while allowing sufficient time to make enough work for her stockists.

With a few years’ experience behind her, Amy is aware of the need to take breaks from such demanding work:

“I also feel that I have the confidence to take time out if I need to – something that I found close to impossible at the start. I have been faced with the realisation that if I don’t take time out to feed myself creatively I can be in danger of running on empty.”

As part of this retreat from her business, Amy reaps the creative benefits of artists’ membership networks, as a source of day-to-day artists’ interaction and member-led discussion of practice. She was a member of artists’ exhibiting group The Contemporary Gallery, which utilised empty buildings in her local area as temporary exhibition spaces, until circumstances caused it to disband. Through this she is able to explore more conceptual ideas and create some larger installation pieces, which she finds “an energising experience”. She is also a member, and more recently the secretary, of Red Herring Studios, an artists’ co-operative that predominantly provides working spaces for its diverse membership.

Some elements of Amy’s practice have followed a linear route. She was able to finish another large brick piece recently – which started life last summer as a demonstration piece at ‘Art in Clay’ at Hatfield House – thanks to sponsorship from Ibstock Brick, which is the same company that facilitated her work as a student. “They have been fantastic once again and are shining examples of how industry can support art.” Amy will be taking it back to Hatfield for this year’s show in August as a finished piece.

But just as her shift from painting to clay whilst at university was an instinctive and unplanned one, Amy’s sees her career development as organic, with its own individual momentum:

“I think my only real plan and ambition was to make a living from my creativity, and in that I am succeeding, although it is very much an ongoing journey. On the whole, by not having definitive objectives I think I have allowed myself go with the flow and take each opportunity on its own merit.”

First published: a-n.co.uk June 2007

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