Eileen Cooper: Nights at the Circus

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Eileen Cooper Nights at the Circus

4th March –– 2nd April 2021



Eileen Cooper Nights at the Circus

4th March –– 2nd April 2021


With Wings 1 Collage with linocut, etching and gouache, 2020. Signed in pencil. 38 x 26 cm

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The Ring Master Collage with linocut, monoprint, screenprint and gouache, 2019. Signed in pencil. 38 x 25.5 cm


Tiger and Princess Collage with linocut, monoprint, screenprint, pastel, ink and watercolour, 2019. Signed in pencil. 38 x 25.5 cm

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Dance Little Bear Collage with linocut, etching, monoprint and hand-colouring, 2020. Signed in pencil. 38 x 26 cm


Feathers Collage with linocut, monoprint, ink drawing and additional hand-colouring, 2019. Signed in pencil. 38 x 25.5 cm

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Journey Collage with linocut, monoprint, pastel, ink and watercolour, 2019. Signed in pencil. 38 x 25.5 cm


Night Sky Collage with linocut, monoprint, pastel, ink and gouache, 2019. Signed in pencil. 38 x 25.5 cm

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In the Dressing Room Collage with linocut, monoprint, pastel, conte and watercolour, 2019. Signed in pencil. 38 x 25.5 cm


Arieliste Collage with linocut, monoprint, screenprint and hand-colouring, 2019. Signed in pencil. 38 x 25.5 cm

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Little Dancer 1 Collage with linocut, etching, screenprint, monoprint and hand-colouring, 2020. Signed in pencil. 38 x 26 cm


Be Kissed and Often 1 Collage with linocut, etching, monoprint and hand-colouring, 2020. Signed in pencil. 38 x 26 cm

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New Life Collage with linocut, monoprint, pastel, ink and gouache, 2019. Signed in pencil. 38 x 25.5 cm


Protector Collage with linocut, monoprint and gouache, 2020. Signed in pencil. 38 x 26 cm

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Dance Little Pig Collage with linocut, etching and monoprint, 2020. Signed in pencil. 38 x 26 cm


Night Kiss 2 Collage with linocut and etching, 2020. Signed in pencil. 26 x 38 cm

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Little Dancer 2 Collage with linocut, etching, monoprint and hand-colouring, 2020. Signed in pencil. 38 x 26 cm


Little Dancer 3 Collage with linocut, monoprint and hand-colouring, 2020. Signed in pencil. 38 x 26 cm

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Dancing Bear Collage with linocut, monoprint, screenprint and pastel, 2019. Signed in pencil. 38 x 25.5 cm


Blue Moon Woodcut printed in colours, 2020. Signed in pencil. Numbered from the edition of 40. Printed on Japanese paper. 24 x 31 cm

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“Blue Moon is based on Sybil, the ringmaster’s pet pig, who is very wise and helps him with all his big decisions. This new print, launched with Sims Reed, is a multi-block colour woodcut, handprinted on Japanese paper. The moon appeared right at the end and as I like the song ‘Blue Moon’ very much, it seemed to be an appropriate title. This is only the second ’solo’ animal that I’ve made a print of.”

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Feathers Lithograph printed in black, 2021. Signed in pencil. Numbered from the edition of 25. Printed by Redbreast Editions, London. 42 x 30.5 cm

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“Feathers is the first lithograph I have made for decades. I thought lithography was a lovely way to emphasise the black, although the initial image was made on a lino block and then transferred to a lithographic plate. I seldom use straight black, but it’s often in my mind and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. A much smaller version of this image appears on the cover of the book.”

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The Boy and the Bear 2 Monoprint, 2019. Signed in pencil. 52 x 43.5 cm

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“The Boy and the Bear is a monoprint. I’d never drawn a Bear before and although I wasn’t worried about realistic representation, I didn’t want to trivialise him. Here the boy has moved away from the character in the book, Walser, who dances with the Bear. This boy and Bear seem to be good companions and I’m still developing this theme.”

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Kissing Couple Linocut printed in colours, 2020. Signed in pencil. Numbered from the edition of 25. 28 x 37.5 cm

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“Kissing Couple developed from a simple ink drawing reproduced in the book. I got very involved in the image, hoping it could represent the two love stories in the book. These being between the Princess of Abyssinia and Mignon, and the central characters Jack Walser and Sophie Fevvers. As is the case in much of my work, I also strive for a universality in the subject. It’s also the first time I have used silver ink…. very tricky indeed.” 27


“I prepared a large number of monoprinted flat colour backgrounds, which would be my collage material. Then I cut numerous linocut blocks, printing, drawing, painting and eventually collaging it all together. It became the most incredibly flexible way to work, both physical and joyful, imagery and technique developing together.” 28


Eileen Cooper takes us on a journey through her imagination in Nights at the Circus, her second exhibition with Sims Reed Gallery. Drawing inspiration from Angela Carter’s seminal novel Nights at the Circus, Cooper has created over twenty unique works on paper and prints. We are also excited to launch two new editions with Cooper. Similarly to Carter, Cooper’s work weaves elements of fairy tales and magical realism in her distinctive style, which treads an agile path between realism and fantasy. Revisiting this much-loved novel elicited deep connections that tied Carter’s colourful characters with imagery in Cooper’s work and subconscious. The result reveals a new body of work which combines motifs inspired by the literary work and ideas drawn from her own imagination. A very personal interpretation of the tale is told through her eyes. Like Carter, Cooper’s work has a particular resonance for women. Carter’s feminism mythology appealed to Cooper and she was immediately attracted to the heroine and protaogonist Sophie Fevvers: the celebrated Aerialiste, a cockney Virgin, hatched from an egg and ready to develop fully-fledged wings. Other female characters – including Sophie’s guardian Lizzie, Mignon, the Princess of Abyssinia and Sybil the fortunetelling pig – also resonated with Cooper. Together with their developing love stories and adventures, Cooper rewrites her own narratives within Carter’s story. The exhibition celebrates a female heroine and the theme of performance. Two characters in particular appealed to Cooper’s imagination and form the subject of the two new editions: Blue Moon and Feathers. 29


A colour palette is first established and paves the way for Cooper to create handmade, monoprinted papers, which are then torn, cut, layered and assembled as ‘backdrops’ or ‘stage lighting’ for the composition. This unique way of working involves a mixture of printmaking and the use of flat expanses of colour and drawing. These are collaged together to produce these unique works. This has become a new way of working for Cooper, a process that began when she created work for her 2019 exhibition Short Stories with the gallery. Vibrant red, blue and ochre tones form the colour palette here. These colours resonate with her personal memories of the circus and create a visual ambiance for the story’s setting. The exhibition coincides with a new edition of Carter’s Nights at the Circus, illustrated by Cooper and published by The Folio Society. Sims Reed Gallery is honoured to work with Eileen Cooper and present her new and vibrant body of work this spring.

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“Fevvers felt that shivering sensation which always visited her when mages, wizards, impresarios came to take away her singularity as though it were their own invention, as though they believed she depended on their imaginations in order to be a woman. She felt herself turning, willy-nilly, from a woman into an idea.” 31

—from Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter


Price list inclusive of VAT Collages: all £1,750 (framed) Editions: Blue Moon £600 The Boy and the Bear £1,500 Kissing Couple £650 Feathers £600 (unframed)

Published by Sims Reed Gallery February 2021 43a Duke Street St. James’s London SW1Y 6DD +44 (0)20 7930 5111 gallery@simsreed.com www.gallery.simsreed.com Designed by A Common Thread www.acommonthread.studio Type set in Portrait by Berton Hasebe. All rights reserved. No part of this publication maybe reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission in writing from the publisher.




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