About this Archive
Potter and writer on the arts
Emmanuel Cooper was born in Pilsley, North East Derbyshire and studied at the University for the Creative Arts. He also achieved a PhD degree at Middlesex University. He was a member of the Crafts Council and the editor of Ceramic Review. Since 1999, he was visiting Professor of Ceramics and Glass at the Royal College of Art. He was the author of many books on ceramics, including his definitive biography of Bernard Leach that was published in 2003 (Yale University Press), and was also the editor of The Ceramics Book, published in 2006.
In the early 1970s, he was also a cofounder of the Gay Left collective and remained a prominent LGBT rights campaigner throughout his life. He also published several studies of LGBT art, including The Sexual Perspective and Fully Exposed: The Male Nude in Photography.
As a potter, Cooper's work falls into one of two general forms. In the first, his vessels are heavily glazed in a volcanic form. The vessels, as a result of this heavy glazing, derive a lot of their appeal from their varied and uneven textures. In their most simple form, they are very reminiscent of work by Lucie Rie. In their more extravagant forms through the vessels can be banded or use incredibly vivid colours to great effect including pink, vibrant yellow and deep reds and blues. His other form of work is much simpler in style using plain glazes, often in egg yolk yellow, occasionally spotted with gold flecks.
His work can be found in the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Royal Scottish Museum, as well as in many private collections. He was awarded an OBE for services to art.
Scope and content
Papers of potter and writer on art, Emmanuel Cooper, including:
- Cooper's Gay Art Archive, including exhibition catalogues, ephemera, invites and notes from, predominantly LGBTQ+ exhibitions and art events, along with correspondence with galleries and artists, gathered/created by Cooper for his work as an art critic or through personal interest, 1972-2009.
- Papers regarding art projects and publications by Cooper, including research material and drafts for Solomon Family exhibition at the Geffrye Museum, 1984-1985; correspondence regarding his proposal for a documentary 'Art on the Street' on art in London outside art galleries for the series 'New Directions', 1993; research materials, photographs, slides, transparencies and correspondence gathered by Cooper in preparation for his book, 'The Life and Work of Henry Scott Tuke', 1980-1989.
- Papers of the Gay Left Collective, including drafts of published and unpublished articles, notes, correspondence and papers regarding the preparation of Gay Left, Issues 1-10, 1975-1984; Cooper's notebook from meetings of the Gay Left Collective, 1976-1978; Gay Left badges, c1978; papers from the Communist University of London, Number 9, 1977; programme for What is to be done? : a conference for gay socialist men and women, 1977.
- Papers relating to Cooper's involvement with the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and records of several local London branches, including briefings and papers produced by CHE, 1972-1974; forms, literature, book lists and publicity material produced by CHE, along with earlier legislation and material produced by other organisations, 1956-1974; minutes and reports of the CHE London Management Committee, 1972-1974; minutes, newsletters and papers of Haringey CHE, 1972-1973; minutes and financial statement of Crouch End CHE, 1972-1973; newsletters and accounts of Highbury and Islington CHE, 1972-1973; newsletter of Marylebone and Paddington CHE, 1975; general press cuttings, papers and correspondence of CHE, 1972-1975.
- Three scrapbooks of cuttings from the Morning Star of Cooper's art columns on art, artists and reviews of exhibitions, 1976-1980.
- Programmes and ephemera from gay theatre shows and performances attended or reviewed by Cooper, 1978-1991.
- Papers, articles, cuttings, photographs, suggested readings and correspondence circulated amongst members of the Gay History Group, 1987-1998.
- The 'Portobello Boys' archive, a collection of photographs from the 1950s and 1960s discovered by Cooper on a market stall at the top of Portobello Road, depicting the social, sexual and intimate lives of a group of working-class men living in London (Cooper intended to publish the images in a book called 'Indecent Acts' in the 1980s but was unable to find a publisher), c1950s-c1960s.
28 boxes and oversize items.