Sidmouth resident helps keep folk art alive

Graham Cooper handing over the slide collection to English Heritage Archivist Ian Leith

Graham Cooper handing over the slide collection to English Heritage Archivist Ian Leith - Credit: Archant

A Sidmouth resident is helping to keep Britain’s history alive after donating more than 4,000 photos of folk art to the English Heritage Archive.

From Graham Cooper's urban art collection - Plymouth's New Palace Theatre

From Graham Cooper's urban art collection - Plymouth's New Palace Theatre - Credit: Archant

Graham Cooper’s unique collection of slides features images of wall paintings and many other kinds of urban folk art, most of which were taken in the late 1970s.

The photographs cover a period from 1975 to 2003 and many of the fading billboards, shopfronts and pub facades no longer exist or are at risk.

The slide collection was assembled with Doug Sargent, a photographer friend from Lancashire, when Graham was at the Royal College of Art in South Kensington.

The pair journeyed several thousands of miles across the UK before mounting the ‘Painting the Town’ exhibition in 1977, which was toured extensively by both the Arts Council and the British Council.

From Graham Cooper's urban art collection - Birmingham's Bull Ring Centre

From Graham Cooper's urban art collection - Birmingham's Bull Ring Centre - Credit: Archant


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Graham has another collection of European and Japanese images that he is looking for a similar archive to home.

The English Heritage Archive contains more than 12 million items of national importance, representing archaeology, architecture and social history.

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