The company started life to design and manufacture limited edition foundry bronze sculptures and collectibles. The founder, Richard Cooper, had previously owned Country Artists Ltd, of Stratford upon Avon. A company he had also founded. This was a successful company designing and manufacturing animals, birds and a wide collection of wildlife subjects from around the world. All the sculptures were made in resin and hand painted in sizes from miniature to life size.
When the company was sold in 2004 Richard was not ready to retire and decided to start a new venture in the same arena but in bronze rather than resin as the base material.
Initially, Richard decided to develop comparatively large sculptures of wildlife studies and figurative work suitable for art galleries in contrast to the smaller subjects from the previous company, which were sold to gift shops.
At this time, the gift shop was showing signs of becoming an endangered species as a new breed of shop was emerging. This new breed was more akin to a lifestyle shop selling instead of a large volume of collectable gifts, products more functional and useful for the home . The days of the “collectable” were effectively over.
It became apparent as the bronzes were being offered to the art galleries that there was a appetite for smaller products of a broader nature, rather similar to the work of Country Artists but in the lasting material of bronze. It was also noticed that jewellers were attracted to the bronze material, possibly because of the neutral colour of the metal, and the way it complemented the more striking colours found in the jewellery shop.
Two new markets had opened for the company in the form of the art gallery and the jewellery shop.
Richard has always found the early formulative days of a business to be the most exciting-the days prior to any success, when the structure of the product range and the market are relatively unknown. The company started just with Richard doing everything from answering the phone to packing the orders, and typing the invoices (with one finger!).
Very soon it became apparent that this approach was not sustainable. This realisation coincided with the introduction of Sophie Mackrell, who had worked at Country Artists, deciding she wanted a change of scene, and joining the embryo company. Sophie’s great talent rests with her creative skills, which proved invaluable in focussing the developing collection whilst taking over a wide assortment of tasks.
Over the coming years the bronze collection grew substantially to cover price points from £20 - £4000.
Some 12 years ago, experiments were conducted to see how small a sculpture could be without loss of detail or distortion in the casting process. The companies in house sculptor, Michael Simpson enthusiastically worked on this development and the collection known as Butler and Peach was born. This proved immensely popular in spite of the price point which was a little more expensive than anticipated. To make a tiny design is just as demanding as one twice the size. This collection has grown over the years to be a really significant part of the overall business.
“Antiques Road Show” unknowingly played a part in the design process when one of the presenters commented how popular it was in Victorian times to cold paint bronze and how nowadays the technique had all but disappeared. This sparked the brain into experimenting with hand painting the bronze after it had been cast but before finishing. The results were fascinating and collectors loved the studies being brought to life with natural colours.
At around the time of development of Butler and Peach miniatures the company experimented with a series of mice studies made in resin bronze with hand painting. To make sure there was no confusion with foundry bronze this new collection was called Richard Cooper Studio. Because mice are loved and collected by so many the series became very popular. The sculpting by Michael Simpson is unsurpassed. He is uniquely able to capture the qualities of the subject which appeals so much.
The Studio collection has been broadened by Keith Sherwin who has designed Nature’s Bond demonstrating the relationship between Mother and her young. These endearing studies are made in nickel resin, a technique of coating the resin in nickel to give a rich silver finish. It is similar to silver coating but has the deeper slightly blue tint which we prefer.
Over time the Studio Collection will be extended as opportunities occur.
Members of the Team!
Richard Cooper. Founder of the company.
Sophie Mackrell. Design and Marketing Manager.
Leanne King. Office Manager.
Graeme Giles. Logistics Manager.
Michael Simpson. Lead Sculptor.
Dean Kendrick. Digital Designer & Sculptor.