Barrie Cooke’s long career as a painter, together with his collaborations with two world-famous poets, underpinned his reputation as one of Ireland’s leading contemporary artists.

Cooke was born in Cheshire, but spent his formative years in Jamaica, Bermuda and the
US, where he studied art history at Harvard University. He moved to Ireland in 1954 and lived there for the rest of his life.

Among Cooke’s prodigious output are his many illustrations for the poems of his friends Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney. This Art Fund grant goes towards securing the drawings, prints and watercolours for these collaborations that form a significant part of the wider archive of Cooke’s papers.

Among the most notable works are Cooke’s illustrations for Heaney’s Bog Poems and Sweeney Astray, as well as drawings for the record sleeve of Hughes’ recording of his Crow poems.

The wider archive includes extensive correspondence between the poets and Cooke about this work, as well as about their shared love of nature, landscape and fishing.

Ted Hughes studied at Pembroke College, which holds one of the world’s most important collections of his manuscripts and papers. This remarkable gathering of Cooke’s own papers and works of art joins them there.


Estate of Barrie Cooke.Barrie Cooke showed me the letters and poetic manuscripts by Heaney and Hughes at the heart of the archive in 2013, when his daughters had thought them lost. After his death, I worked with his daughters Liadin Cooke, Julia Cooke an

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