THE WORK of rural artist Michael Cooper has proved popular with FW readers in the past.
He records the farming scene in highly detailed watercolours and his latest limited edition print shows a scene many will remember.
“Threshing Day” may look like something from a yester-year farming show or a rural life museum but in Michael”s neck of the woods it is still a yearly event.
Not far from the artist”s own studio in Somerset, the Wright family still stook, rick and thresh their fields every year to maintain a supply of thatching straw for their thatching business, which was established in 1781.
In the picture, 84-year-old Harold Wright, who has been demonstrating his craft at the Royal Bath and West Show for 30 years or more, can be seen as he keeps an eye on the proceedings.
But like farmers, Michael is always on the look out for new and expanding markets. “I have always sold a lot of my work to farming families to hang on their own walls to remind them perhaps of the Little Grey Fergie they once learned to drive on, or of days past when life was not so computerised and technical,” says Michael. “But now we are selling to farmers as wholesale clients.
“A few years ago, other people published greeting cards of my work, which sold mainly through shops and post offices. Now, as the copyrights revert to me, we have become card publishers ourselves.”
He is now marketing the cards to farm shops and farm activity centres. He feels they are just the right place to sell his farming images. Tractors, Land Rovers, cow studies and even that ever-popular country dog, the Jack Russell, are among his latest additions to the range entitled Cooper”s Countryside. The cards come individually wrapped in cellophane and many buyers start with a mixed order of 100 cards.
Michael”s son Ben has joined the firm and deals with trade sales. “It was at shows like the Bath and West where we first met farmers as wholesale customers,” says Ben. “Some places had not even considered selling cards till we brought it up,” says Ben. “But one customer said when she first saw the selection displayed outside my father”s gallery at Clarks village, Street, Somerset, that she could not get up the stairs fast enough to arrange for him to call. “What I want,” she said, “is another few pounds off every customer who visits our shop and a card rack by the till is just about the easiest way to do it.”