How Ilkley Gazette reader helped tell Menston artist’s tale

Ilkley Gazette: John Cooper as an art student around 1911 John Cooper as an art student around 1911

An author was able to piece together the history of a Menston-based artist through the help of an Ilkley Gazette reader.

David Buckman, was researching local artist John Cooper, to feature in his new book From Bow to Biennale.

Mr Cooper was an inspirational teacher behind the East London Group of artists and also created beautiful mosaics panels in Tranmere Hall in Guiseley which still stand today.

During Mr Buckman’s research on Mr Cooper’s mosaic works in Yorkshire, the author struggled to locate a Leeds architect called Leslie Taylor Appleyard, who had worked with him on the mosaic panels in Guiseley.

Mr Buckman, who has been a journalist and author for more than 40 years, said: “After an exhaustive search I could not trace this architect until a letter that I sent to the Ilkley Gazette on November 2, 2008, was spotted by a reader, Mr B K Stott, an Ilkley resident, who brought it to the attention of Appleyard's son Keith, an architect with whom he had trained.

“Keith Appleyard, who lives in Addingham, got in touch with me and had a book of press clippings about his father's projects which provided useful background information”.

Mr Appleyard also identified mosaics by the artist which have now been photographed and appear in the book.

The book tracks the lives of members of the group of artists which was headed by Mr Cooper, who was born in Bolton in 1894, and was taken to live in Yorkshire aged two.

He studied art in Scarborough and then his family settled in Menston. Before the First World War he attended art schools in Leeds and Bradford.

The book reveals, for the first time, how charismatic teacher John Cooper turned a few dozen working class Eastenders into one of the most successful exhibiting groups of the 1930s.

The paintings are a unique record of inter-war London, much of it now disappeared.

The book is illustrated with group members’ pictures and contemporary photographs and includes a list of paintings in public collections.

Visit francisboutle.co.uk to purchase the book, which is priced at £25.

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