Potter, writer, teacher, editor, curator and gay rights activist, Emmanuel Cooper was a unique figure in the cultural landscape of this country for almost half a century. When he died in 2012 he left behind not only an extraordinary body of work, but also an archive that illuminated both his own life and career and that of the many other makers, artists and activists who had been his friends, colleagues or the subject of his writing. This book is based almost exclusively on that archive.
Using his unpublished memoirs, diaries, and correspondence, Making Emmanuel Cooper illuminates the journey of an intelligent, if unconfident, working class boy growing up in a small north Derbyshire mining village whose life was transformed, firstly at school, by the magic of clay, and then in adult life by the liberation politics of the late 1960s. The book includes a fascinating account of Emmanuel’s career as a potter as well as his thoughts on a range of issues from the art versus craft debate through to gay marriage and monogamy, as well his passion for folk art, insights into his work at the Royal College of Art and his editorship of the internationally acclaimed Ceramic Review magazine. Making Emmanuel Cooper also charts his involvement in the gay liberation movement, his journalism for the Morning Star and his part in the creation of the hugely influential Gay Left collective.
He was the art critic for the original Gay News and his groundbreaking books on aspects of queer art and culture – including the pioneering The Sexual Perspective – examined issues around sexuality and the visual arts that pre-date the Tate Gallery’s recent Queer Art in Britain show by some thirty years. Richly illustrated, Making Emmanuel Cooper is both a personal and a social history that celebrates the life and times of an important artist and remarkable man.
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