other things

David Jervis Matthew Cooper 1948

Singer/songwriter, musician, artist, educator, father, grandfather, lapsed biodynamic gardener, would be Philomath, activist. Seeker of other things Raremusez.

Harry And Nelle Cooper in the back garden with chrysanthemums
Mum and Dad

My mother Ellen Heyes was born in ‘Pool Meadow’ Coventry in 1903. Seventh child of nine. As a baby she only just survived an infection of Scarlet Fever and was not expected to survive her teens.  When Ellen was a small child her brother taught her to write her name in chalk on a piece of slate in the backyard. She remembered the time when she turned the letters round to spell Nelle and asked her brother how do you say that. From then on she was known as her chosen name Nelle. I remember her stories of the cruel poverty of the times. How she felt privileged to go to school with one brown shoe and one black because many of her schoolmates were barefoot. At fourteen she worked in a mill, a dangerous job cleaning under the looms. At the time her meagre pay was the only household income, no one else had work. Hard times indeed.

Her father was disabled as a young man while bringing a runaway horse and trap under control. For this selfless and heroic act he was given a half-gold sovereign by the husband of the young woman in the trap. As a result he lost the use of his right leg and was unable to find any gainful work. “Lo there goes a Pedagogue”

I am her seventh soul gift to our world. Harry and Nelle lost the first three to cot death and childhood illnesses.

They survived the torture of WW2. through which Harry served as a Submariner aboard the ill fated ‘Thunderbolt” submarine. Famous in Admiralty history previously named Thetis which became stuck in mud on its maiden voyage the entire crew 99 men were lost. Alone sick in hospital in Alexandria Egypt. A solitary surviver,  Thunderbolt sailed without him and was sunk by an Italian Destroyer in 1943. All hands lost. He suffered that loss of comrades through his life. I once overheard him say that Thunderbolt was haunted by the Thetis tragedy. At times they heard and saw things. The ship always smelt of paint, they kept trying to erase the rust line left by the previous sinking. It just came back. 

Thunderbolt Crew 1942

ABSM Harry Cooper

The Submariner (D.Cooper 2002)


My father with no bad teeth in his head, he lived on mouldy bread, he said

He was a Submariner, a deep tarrier a submariner

Fly beneath the ocean waves, many close shaves

Fathomless underworld, minnows and whales


My father with the dark look to his eye, follow the sirens cry

Dark as the Navy Rum, salty eyed spirits rise, comrades with faces that fade

Left beneath the ocean waves, watery graves

Down where the tides turn, some submariners stayed


Alone and standing silent on the shore, as the waves do rage and roar

Far past the headland battles of foam and sand, where the white horses sing

Songs of the ocean waves, deep coral caves, his heart but an anchor

Sea changed… the submariner

HMS Thetis Disaster.
HMS Thetis Disaster.

Somehow they went forward to have my three siblings and I. Post ’45, Harry worked for the Admiralty for over thirty years. A technical officer in Lens optics and telescope development. I had a great collection of glass prisms which I passed on to Darrell Viner, for an early day’s Dando ‘happening’.

They made a glorious garden. Nelle saw ghosts at times in her life. As the seventh child of a seventh child she warned me “never to place a curse on another” Point a finger at another point three towards yourself. My deepest memories, boundless kindness and her singing her favourite songs to me. I used to ask for the ones that made me cry. My version of Barbara Allen comes from her knee. 

Cooper Family early 50's
Coopers+ 1955

Early Years

I had a very happy childhood. I passed the notorious eleven-plus. Opting for ‘Caludon Castle’, the newly built fairly local Comprehensive. It had a great swimming pool. My school life was mostly spent pursuing my love of art and drawing and I began to learn the guitar. Not quite a nerd, I played wing in the school rugger team. Represented the County in the under 13’s 200 metre relay and had the school record for my age for the long-jump. I spent my last year looking for an escape hole in the school fence.

I feel the trajectory of ones values, politics and life must be owed to family. I had tried; Cubs, Scouts, Lifeboys and various teenage gatherings. When I was 14 I found The Woodcraft Folk•) and learned about; the great book of nature, firelighting, and “the night wind whispering in the Larches”. Through comradeship song and dance I discovered that the care and companionship I’d found in family, extended to something called Socialism. They were golden magical years, “Youth and maiden side by side…” I recall around the same time visiting Cranes music shop in Coventry. They had a few back copies of “Singout’ I bought for a shilling. The next few months were spent avidly opening the door to American Folk Music music. One article on Woody Guthrie “The Dustbowl Balladeer” and ‘protest songs’ spoke to me. “On the other side of the sign it didn’t say nothing…”

“Well may the world go”

My other great ‘Singout’ finds at that time were Bluegrass, Dylan and the songs and politics of Pete Seeger, with me still. Just special.  The Folk are coeducational. They gave me a chance to meet young people, at international camps celebrating unforgettable ‘Joie de vivre’. I was entranced by a 12 year old girl…..lifers, we are still together 60 years later!

I left school at 15 it was already the 60’s!

Work Experience

1963-66 Various backstreet Coventry engineering companies capstan bashing and learning a bit about the mystery of metal working, respect given to those who can. Thanks to my brother John for his engineering and life lessons.(How to hand grind and sharpen a twist drill-bit among many)

I spent a year mostly sweeping up hair in a barbers. Where I learned to set and sharpen a cut-throat razor that I once used to help shave a full bearded man, who suffered from periodic shell shock and shakes. With the current proliferation of Barbers Shop’s on the High-street maybe I should have continued in the trade. However other things and the muse called…. 

1966-68 Ceramics/Sculpture Technician, Coventry College of Education Westwood Site Warwick University

1968-71 Professional Musician, Recording Artiste

Discography : Dando Shaft (an evening with) 1969 Young Blood Music, Fairground 19970 RCA Neon,Lantaloon 1971 RCA Neon, Kingdom 1978 Rubber Records, Reaping the Harvest 1988 compilation Misty River Music, Shadows Cross the Moon 1989 live in Bergamo Italy, Dex Records. Anthology 2002 RPM 

1971-72 Journeyman Cabinetmaker, Pembrokeshire S Wales

1972-74 Workshop Trainer Community Industry, 

1974-75 O.T. Aid Walsgrave Hospital Coventry

1976-82 Self Employed working with Lutherer and Musical Instrument Maker Rob Armstrong, Antique Restorer

1982-83 Foundation Studies Art & Design Coventry University

1983-86 B.A. Hons Fine Art Maj. Sculpture Installation Coventry University

1987-89 Part-time Lecturer Ceramics Open Studies Programme Warwick University, Founder member / worker Arts Exchange Community Arts networking agency

1990-91 12 month Cultural Exchange Perth Western Australia, Studio ceramics and Italian Community Arts festival- contributing artist

1991-99 Coventry Artists Co-operative Artist/worker Director, art practise, telematics research

1995-98 Part Time Tutor – Coventry University – Arts & Craft Studies BA Hons.

1999-03 Research – Founder director Wec@n training for creative applications of ICT.

2003 07 Art Practise

Other Activities

Founder member / worker, Arts Exchange community arts networking agency

Founder member / Director, Coventry Artists Co-operative, artist led company developing and managing studio space and a programme of visual arts activities and events

Director, Coventry & Warwickshire Co-operative Development Agency Co-operative development

Director, Menagerie Buildings Trust Limited. A company and registered charity seeking to develop a centre for education for creativity and sustainability

Director, Arts+Media Training Ltd., advancing training in the arts

Worker/Trustee, Artyfolks.  Adults recovering from mental health issues

Raremusez Media, Company offering media services.

“Radio Unnameable” 2012. Honoured to have our music featured in this seminal work , and to learn Bob was a fan of Dando Shaft.


1987 ‘The Mysterious Shake of Pluralism’ Midland View, On The Town sculpture exhibition.

1988 ‘Tree From a Sweet Forrest’ Anna Best Commonwealth Institute London contributing artist

1989 ‘Godiva Head’ West Midland Arts exhibition contributing artist

1990 ‘ Pommie Potters’ ceramics exhibition, Freemantle Italian Festival, W. Australia

1991 ‘Arts Exchange’ community arts exhibition

1991 ‘Hillfields Happening’ Arts Festival contributing artist

1992 ‘Map’ Anna Best, Grizedale Forest Sculpture Park, assistant/collaborator

1992 ‘Paradox Resolver’ sculpture, Coventry Open Exhibition

1993 ‘Opening Spaces’ The Arches Studios group show, contributing artist

1993 ‘Bus Stop’ Arts Exchange public sculpture project

1994 ‘Sundial’ Wood End sculpture project

1994 ‘Shave Farm’ International Artist Residencies Dorset, visiting artist

Shave Farm Artist Workshops. Image of main painting studio.
Shave Farm

1995 ‘Artspace Cybercafe’ COVARTERY Open Studios, contributing artist

1995 ‘Scapegoats’ Glastonbury Festival performance, contributing artist

1995 ‘Cybertribal Europe’ exhibition of digital works

1995 ‘Waterwall’ Coventry Canal Corridor public sculpture contributing artist



1996 ‘ubuntu?’ helped organise live on-line event /conference “Cybertribal Europe” with participants in four continents.

1996 ‘Webpassage’ authoring of online exhibition of “Documentum de transmutatio” Exhibition and PHD submission by Dr. Dick Whall

2012 “Radio Unnameable”. Honoured to have our music featured in this seminal life’s work. 

1997 ‘Holy Cow’ WOMAD festival Reading – Carnival workshops – Festival sculpures

1997 ‘@Covartco from dc to desktop’ – recent work projected data -Coventry Artists Co-op Studio show.

1997 “Bus Stop Again” Centro and Arts Exchange community arts project – contributing artist Coventry Memorial Park.

1998 “Bigbasket”Arts Exchange project with residents of Quinton Lodge- large scale willow basket

1998 “WOMAD” – Childrens workshops and procession

1998 “Willowfish”- Green willow sculpture Bishop Ulathorne School

1998 “Hi-low” Stone sculpture and ‘Snail’  Green willow sculpture at Longford Park. Arts Exchange, Environment Agency, CCC Parks and Leisure community arts projects with local schools.

1999 “Igloos” Arts Exchange series of four geen willow sculptures

1999 “Pole Chair” and “Large Grass” Canley Ford 

1999  Bluecoates School Coventry, restoration works “Seven heads, eight smiles” sandstone carved heads

2000-02  “Netgain” Metier European distance learning project,  production of companion learners CD “take a closer look”

2003  “The Prince” Coventry Open Exhibition mixed media.

2003 -05 Art practise Aryfolks workshops

2004- 07 “Clubmum” Contributing artist at a series of events and festivals

2005 07 “Ten Ton of English Oak” Series of sculptural seating at Hawksbury Village Green

Image of #dacoopz. Kissing Seat from a series of sculptural works. "Ten Tons of English Oak"
Kissing Seat

2012 “Radio Unnameable”. Honoured to have our music featured in this documentary. 

2007- Gave up art for gardening!

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