• Handpicked Harrogate

Major new exhibition opens in Harrogate gallery

Artist Eilleen Cooper, pictured with her exhibition at the Mercer Gallery

Drawings from the first woman Keeper of the Royal Academy of Arts are to feature in a major Autumn exhibition which opens in Harrogate today.

Artist Eileen Cooper’s Hide and Seek exhibition, at The Mercer Gallery, will feature distinctive drawings which reflect on her life.

“This is a major coup,” said curator Jane Sellars. “Eileen is a great artist. The exhibition is all drawings, which is lovely. It’s quite retrospective, from the early 1970s up until the modern day. It’s all about her struggles as an artist and a mother.

“And the exhibition did show at the Royal Academy before it came here - it’s very exciting.

"The exhibition, in collaboration with the Royal Academy, will run until January 15. And whilst Cooper is best known for her richly coloured and expressive paintings and prints, Hide and Seek will present rarely-seen drawings made in a variety of media including charcoal, pencil, pastel and ink.

Organisers say this is a superb opportunity to view a large selection of her poetic, bold and figurative pieces, spanning almost 40 years of her career.

And it all came about because of a chance encounter after Ms Sellars sent the artist a copy of a book she had written focusing on the women in art who have been featured at the gallery. “I have been a supporter women artists throughout my career,” said Ms Sellars. “The Mercer has always had a powerful and diverse representation of women artists in its collection.”