Cooper is the founding head of photography at Glasgow School of Art but spends much of his life travelling around the world to make his photographs, often to remote locations.

Amongst the artist's inspirations is the work of American photographer Timothy H. O'Sullivan (c. 1840–1882), and he has produced a number of works over the years with the shared title ‘Message for Timothy O’Sullivan' in homage to him. Presented jointly by the artist and Anthony d'Offay.

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