What a treat to introduce Sydney artist Lisa Cooper of DOCTOR COOPER STUDIO. With that alabaster skin, untamable jet black hair and intricate floral tattoo she embodies the still lives she so intuitively constructs. If you’ve ever had the luck of meeting Dr Cooper you would recognise that mischievous twinkle in her eye always present in truly gifted individuals.
With a Doctorate of Philosophy in Fine Arts she explains her studio work “as embodying human emotion thru art practice” using flowers “the greatest medium for human emotion”.
Cooper’s work is commission-based, whether it’s a floral expression for an individual, crowns for the Sydney Theatre Company or golden wreaths for Tiffany & Co. She is inspiring with her sense of social inclusiveness and is not only open to diverse briefs but excited by the challenge of left fieldness. Subscribing to her depth of soulful beauty you could approach her with any brief and she would return it with a considered, grand, yet fleeting floral testimonial.
We always feel uplifted when we see her van around knowing that we in Sydney have someone special in the fold that understands the need for personal human expression. It is a well-known fact that Dr Cooper brings such a sense of intimate joy to all that have the pleasure of working with her.
It’s no surprise then that her chair of choice is a sentimental one that has seen her through this incredible journey. A 1940’s sturdy timber chair with robust blood red upholstery and with a strong sense of history and comfort for Cooper. It’s where she sits in her St Peters studio every day conjuring up the stuff of our dreams.
Tell us about your chair? What it it’s story?
I’ve had this chair for about 15 years. It was given to me by another student at The College of Fine Arts, he was apparently ‘upgrading’ to another chair and as I had expressed affection for his chair he offered it to me. That was second year of undergrad. I have had it as my work/studio chair ever since, I’m very attached to it and intend to have it all the days of my life, god willing. I have developed all of my projects and made much of my work with its physical support. It is comfortable and ergonomic in ways that are particular to its era which I would put around 1940?
Biggest glory-moment career-wise?
My book deal. My van. The signage on my van. The first flower order from someone i didn’t know. Tiffany and Co. commission. First job for the Sydney Theatre Company. First funeral. At christmas my van was parked in Bowral and someone left a note on the windscreen that they like my work. My business card. Art Month. The MCA. Toni Maticevski. The phone call in tears because she loved the flowers so much. The ones who say they remind them of their nanna. They’re all equal.
The Doctor thing… Tell us about it.
I have a PhD in Art: ‘A Metaphysics of the Annihilation of Self in Video-Portraiture (Imaging mediations between the Human and Divine)’ – a document that speaks both of my art practice and the work that I have continued to produce with flowers as my medium. I worked very hard to achieve this degree and so the word doctor figured in naming my flower work: DOCTOR COOPER STUDIO the inclusion of my title both honours my work as an artist and academic and positions my flower work outside of the usual ‘floral’ names given to flower businesses which is useful in conveying my distinction.
They are the most captivating and effective medium I have found for the expression of human emotion, which has always been the central tenant of my work.
Blundstones or RM’s?
Blundstones for work. RM’s for going out.
What gift do you give to a florist?
Bath salts, a crystal or one of Elise Pioch’s candles. Hermes.
Describe your ideal studio soundtrack
ABC FM (except when the crazy jazz comes on, I can’t abide the crazy jazz – then silence)
What is the most treasured tool of your trade?
My gold secateurs and my printer (which is why I employed my assistant Sophie, she knows how to work the printer – she’s very good)
If you could holiday for a year straight where would you go?
What I know about people who give flowers is…
That they shall inherit the earth (the good souls).
Photography by: Ben Pyke