Elaine Coppen was born in Colchester and has lived there all her life. Her parents met in the war when her father was stationed in Scarborough but came back to live in Colchester soon afterwards with his Yorkshire bride. Elaine married in 1964 and had two children. She trained as a shorthand typist and worked part-time in an office when her children were of school age. She started painting and drawing at evening classes when Charles Debenham (q.v.) was the tutor at Greyfriars Adult Education Centre, Colchester. He is the one who encouraged her to join Colchester Art Society, a member of which she has been since 1976. Later she enrolled at Colchester Institute where she completed the EARAC (1) Design Crafts Diploma Course inApplied Arts in 1991. The course, which was taught by Ian Hay (q.v.) and Mick Smee (q.v.), enabled her to study the use of various art materials. She also studied printmaking skills on the same course under Mike Middleton. In 2000-2003 she studied at the Norwich School of Art and Design where she gained a B.A. (Hons) in Fine Art and obtained an M.A. in Art Design and the Book at Colchester Institute in 2010. She was one of the founder members of Cuckoo Farm Studios, in Colchester, when it was being set up by Keith Albarn. It was thanks to her instigation that Michael Rothenstein officially opened Cuckoo Farm Studios in 1993. With Maxine Fitter and Jean Woods she started the first print workshop there. She also ran a life class at the Farm and at Wilson Marriage Adult Education Centre. Elaine was a member of Gainsborough’s House Print Workshop in Sudbury from 1996 until 2000. She took part in exhibitions held at the House and other venues including Buckenham, Gallery Southwold, Snape Maltings, and Salisbury Playhouse Theatre.
This etching was taken from a drawing executed at Wivenhoe Dockyard when it was falling into disrepair before being developed into a housing estate. The countryside and coast around Colchester are the main inspirations for Elaine’s work, followed by life drawing. Drawing has always been central to her artistic practice. She has her own press and works from her studio in the garden. She especially enjoys the lengthy process of developing drawings into prints - etchings, collographs or monoprints - because of the way this creates unexpected changes to the basic image.
1995 Digby Gallery, Colchester Mercury Theatre, Solo Exhibition
1997 Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich, On the Border (mixed exhibition)
1998 Quay Theatre Gallery, Sudbury
1996-2000 Gainsborough’s House Print Workshop, Sudbury
2010 The Minories, Colchester, MA Show
The Buckenham Gallery, Southwold, Suffolk
Salisbury Arts Centre, Salisbury, Wiltshire
The Lime Tree Gallery, Long Melford, Suffolk
The Quay Gallery, Snape Maltings, Suffolk
(1) East Anglian Regional Access Centre, part of the Anglia Ruskin University.