Linda Copp

Batik Artist

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Published, EAC Communiqué, September 1988

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atik is an Indonesian word, meaning “wax writing”. It’s an ancient art dating back to the 13th century courts of Java and Bali, and perhaps back to ancient Egypt. For Linda Copp it is a technique of painting the landscapes and flowers of her everyday life in and around the hamlet of Salem, by the Irvine River. 

Each morning Linda and her husband Terry take a long walk through the countryside. It grows familiar with its colours of various seasons, and the light of various skies. She photographs it and distils it in her
memory. One day it fuses into the design for a new batik, and she begins to record it on a pure white piece of 100 percent cotton. Her studio is a garage beside her house, screened off by evergreen trees from the new building taking place all around Salem. Here Linda works regularly every day, from 8:30 or 9 till lunch, and again two or three hours in the afternoon. Within the studio is a long wide table, and at the end a small pot of paraffin and beeswax, sitting unobtrusively on a single electric coil, with three brushes. The light from large
windows pours over the worktable and the many framed batiks of different stages of development hanging on white walls. The dyeing of batik is not done here but in the laundry room of the house, where there is running water.

Originally Linda studied Fine Arts at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. For a number of years she painted. Then one year, married and with children and living in Montreal, she took a six week course in Batik at the ‘Y’. It is her only formal training in this exacting resist technique. “I’ve always liked clear and vivid colours,” Linda says. “I’ve worked hard at keeping them, and I’m still working at it. Still exploring.” 

Her early batiks are simpler, but lacking in the richness of her works today. In a very difficult medium which requires inverse thinking, planning the waxing and colour dyes from light to dark, she is at present working to master details and clarity. For Linda however, the wide potential of the medium itself is less important than what she is trying to do. She always uses the same dyes, the same wax combinations, few brushes, content to explore these in expressing what she sees.

At 15 years of age, Linda worked in a flower shop and absorbed a love of flowers, which is reflected in the irises and poppies seen frequently in her pictures. Perhaps her most formative experience took place when, as a child of seven, it was discovered that she was short sighted and needed glasses. “When I got my glasses I was so thrilled with what I could see around me, I haven’t stopped looking since!” she explains. 

Linda has been a naturalized Canadian for fifteen years, and seems very happy in this community. Her husband Terry is a professor of Canadian History at nearby Wilfred Laurier University, and Linda does the maps for his Military History of Canada, now in its fifth volume. She is active in the Arts Council, working with the Insights Show and Studio Tours. The youngest of her three children is in high school and she now has more independence and freedom to work. The diffused, gentle warmth of her personality leads one to believe Linda’s art will yet develop through many different stages. Although she has not exhibited far beyond this area, she is already a remarkable artist in her medium. 

by Beverley Cairns, September 1988

UPDATE – 1997

Linda has participated annually in EAC’s Studio Tour and recently exhibited at the “In Praise of Gardens” and “In Your Own Backyard” shows at Wellington County Museum. “After 25 years, batik seems the most natural medium in the world to me”, she says. “It is the landscape and the light I pursue.”

In the autumn of 1996 Linda Copp was Artist In Residence at the Queens University International Study Centre, Herstmonceaux Castle, East Sussex, England. Linda’s batiks celebrating the flourishing gardens and
dream-like architecture of Herstmonceaux were displayed in a two person exhibition “A Place In Time”, with Toronto painter Katherine Harvie, at the Library of Queens University in June – July 1997.

Linda continues to work at her studio in Salem, expanding the subjects of her batiks and the subtlety of colour.

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When I got my glasses I was so thrilled with what I could see around me, I haven’t stopped looking since!

UPDATE

May of ‘99 was the opening of “A Year on the Grand”, a show comprising 30 works centred on the Grand River, with music by Wayne Bridge. This exhibition travelled for a year from the Wellington County Museum and Archives to the Dufferin County Museum and Archives, Glenhurst Art Gallery of Brant, and the Homer Watson House and Gallery.

The Grand River Conservation Authority awarded Linda a certificate of appreciation for her artwork in November 1999.

Linda exhibited with other area artists in “Portrait Of The Artist” at the Wellington County Museum and in “Water” at the Elora Centre for the Arts. The year 2003 saw the publication of two of Linda’s batik images as limited edition gicleé prints: “The Bridge At West Montrose” and “David Street Bridge, Elora”.

 “Rivers Of The Grand” is an exhibit focused on the tributaries of the river. It opened in September 2004 at the Wellington County Museum and Archives.