David ‘Mouse’ Cooper

The New­mar­ket jockey turned artist stag­ing a solo show

EADT Suffolk - - Inside -

ONE of the most beau­ti­ful sights in Suf­folk must be the pre-pa­rade ring at the July Course in New­mar­ket, on a fine sum­mer af­ter­noon. The horses walk, stripped of tack, wait­ing for their turn on the ‘big stage’. The sun­light fil­ters down be­tween the leaves of the trees over­head, dap­pling the shin­ing skin of th­ese supreme ath­letes, as they are led around prior to be­ing sad­dled. Of­ten, sit­ting un­no­ticed in a cor­ner, blend­ing into the sur­round­ings is New­mar­ket painter David ‘Mouse’ Cooper, sketch book on his knee, qui­etly draw­ing.

David, or ‘Mouse’ as he was known, was brought up im­mersed in rac­ing. His father worked in New­mar­ket as a rider and sta­ble hand, and David de­vel­oped a pas­sion for draw­ing and paint­ing horses at an early age. Frus­trated by the lack of solid ca­reer pro­gres­sion in rac­ing, his par­ents moved to Lon­don to run a butch­ers shop in the East End. David left school in Lon­don with lit­tle more than a hand­ful of O-lev­els and a Grade A art A-level, but he showed such out­stand­ing tal­ent and prom­ise that a schol­ar­ship to Gold­smiths, Univer­sity of Lon­don, beck­oned. Sadly, the fam­ily’s fi­nan­cial cir­cum­stances meant he was un­able to take it up, and he left school to en­ter a life­long as­so­ci­a­tion with the horse and horserac­ing. David be­came an ap­pren­tice jockey with Bill Mar­shall in 1975, fol­lowed by spells with Harry Thom­son Jones, David Elsworth and Stu­art Wil­liams, where he even­tu­ally be­came head lad. He had a few rides as a jockey, but as is so com­mon, the loss of the weight-for-age al­lowance, the ab­sence of a big break, and sim­ply age led to a dwin­dling sup­ply of race rides. For a while he left rac­ing to work in Sel­fridge’s to be closer to his age­ing par­ents in Lon­don, but like many oth­ers, he couldn’t re­sist the lure of the race­horse for long.

David re­turned to New­mar­ket, where he worked at the Ross­dales Equine Hos­pi­tal as an an­i­mal care tech­ni­cian. He also had a sec­ond try at an art ed­u­ca­tion, ob­tain­ing his City and Guilds Cer­tifi­cate in art at West Suf­folk Col­lege. In 2005 he was of­fered a place to read fine arts and il­lus­tra­tion as a full-time stu­dent at Cam­bridge Anglia Ruskin Univer­sity. He grad­u­ated in 2007 with a BA hon­ours de­gree, and fol­lowed this with a stage 1 teach­ing cer­tifi­cate. He now di­vides his time be­tween paint­ing and teach­ing twice weekly art classes for sta­ble staff and oth­ers at The Rac­ing Cen­tre (part-spon­sored by Godol­phin, HH Sheikh Mo­hammed al Mak­toum’s rac­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion), plus oc­ca­sional work­shops at Tin­dalls art shop in New­mar­ket.

David holds pas­sion­ate and strong views on art. “I be­lieve ev­ery­one can paint and draw, and I get great plea­sure from bring­ing this out of peo­ple in the classes. My main pas­sion is to con­vey move­ment in an­i­mals, par­tic­u­larly the horse. I think that it’s pos­si­ble to con­vey move­ment in a paint­ing far more ef­fec­tively than in a pho­to­graph.

“I’ve al­ways had an en­quir­ing mind into the

‘I be­lieve ev­ery­one can paint and draw, and I get great plea­sure from bring­ing this out of peo­ple in the classes’

way that horses move. My time at the equine hos­pi­tal taught me a lot about anatomy, and the biome­chan­ics of move­ment, how the horse gets it­self into mo­tion. When a horse ‘jumps-off’ from the stalls at the start of a race, it goes from sta­tion­ary to around 35 mph in a few strides. That’s the equiv­a­lent of get­ting a jumbo jet air­borne off the run­way – it in­volves huge forces. It’s cap­tur­ing this power, this move­ment, and the play of light on the horses’ skin, that has formed the ba­sis of my ef­forts in paint­ing ever since.”

David’s work is in the col­lec­tions of New­mar­ket solic­i­tor Jeremy Richardson, Captain Tim Bul­wer-Long, trainer Ed Dun­lop, and Lady Le­ices­ter of Holkham, an avid col­lec­tor. He has also held three solo ex­hi­bi­tions in Bran­caster and Thorn­ham in Nor­folk. He was very pleased to be asked to con­trib­ute paint­ings to the In­jured Jockey Fund Rac­ing Wel­fare cal­en­dar for 2016, pro­vid­ing paint­ings for the cover, and the months of March, July and Septem­ber. He has also re­cently pro­vided a paint­ing of horses in a his­tor­i­cal set­ting, un­load­ing from rail­way car­riages at As­cot race­course sta­tion, which will be used as a Christ­mas card for the same char­ity.

David is grate­ful for the sup­port he has re­ceived from the rac­ing fra­ter­nity, es­pe­cially the man­age­ment of Fak­en­ham Race­course, who have al­lowed him to show his work to a wider Nor­folk au­di­ence, and to Mark Ed­mond­son, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ed­mond­son Hall so­lic­i­tors, which is a strong sup­porter of lo­cal artists. Mark has asked David to stage a solo ex­hi­bi­tion of his work, ti­tled Move­ment and Light, in New­mar­ket this Septem­ber. David hopes it will bring to­gether paint­ings in many dif­fer­ent styles, and show­case his abil­i­ties to paint in a wide va­ri­ety of gen­res, as he doesn’t want to be known just as a painter of horses.

Move­ment and Light two weeks from Septem­ber 24, week­days only, 8.30am-5.30pm at Ed­mond­son Hall, 25 Ex­eter Rd, New­mar­ket, CB8 8AR. www. ed­mond­son­hall.com (am­ple park­ing op­po­site at The Guineas public car park). Fur­ther de­tails of ‘Mouse’ Cooper’s paint­ings can be found at www.mousec­ooper.com Sales from the ex­hi­bi­tion will gen­er­ate a 10% do­na­tion to the In­jured Jock­eys Fund and Rac­ing Wel­fare.

Mouse Cooper sketch­ing

Safely Over

Even­ing sta­bles

Turn­ing in

Wait­ing in the Wings

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