Joanne Cope


 "I am a New Zealand born modern realist painter, living and painting in Bath, United Kingdom. I am best known for my powerful, large scale oil paintings of cattle.

My choice of subject matter is rooted in my upbringing in rural New Zealand. Our extended family included an Aunt with a dry stock farm and an Uncle working for the Department of Conservation. We grew up surrounded by livestock and were a family that lived off the land and had a great respect for it and the animals it supported. I have been drawing and painting cattle and other animals for nearly two decades.

As I researched the history of cattle painting, I was particularly interested in the relationship between humans and domesticated livestock and the idea that specific breeds of cattle were a social construct. That in fact, over time, society had dictated which aspects of an animal’s appearance were desirable. This was then manipulated through intensive, selective breeding, and livestock owners made efforts to produce visually distinguishable breeds. I also discovered that visual 'breed standards' were often a result of how cattle had been represented through idealised drawings or paintings by artists.

In my practice I experiment with the art form of traditional portraiture, which is typically used to capture the essence of a person, except I have substituted cattle as the 'sitter'.

Using oil paint on canvas, I endeavour to idealize my subjects’ physical appearance, so as to make them more visually compelling. The cattle are placed in traditional portrait-like poses, some looking directly at the viewer. My hope is that by drawing the viewers’ attention to the extraordinary physical attributes and inherent beauty of these animals, that my paintings will evoke empathy and compassion for an animal that is often taken for granted.