Although Harold Coop first exhibited in 1959 and has painted ever since, it is in recent years, following retirement as one of New Zealand's leading eye surgeons, that he has been able to fully pursue his artistic career. Early watercolour landscapes of the 1970s and 1980s, while quite traditional in composition, frequently featured bright splashes of colour which have become something of a Coop trademark. These have been renegotiated in his later works.
From around 2001 we see the emergence of an exciting new style - strong abstract landscapes in acrylic and metallic paints. The emergence of this style was partially the result of Coop's travels during which he studied the combined use of gold and colour in such diverse forms as Russian icons, Egyptian artefacts, illuminated manuscripts, European colourists and abstractionists, and the paintings of Gustav Klimt. The contrasting washwork is influenced by a love of English watercolourists such as Cotman, and by the adventurous American watercolour school.
His work has been published in nationally released calendars and Australian Artist , and International Artist Magazines. He was a finalist in an International Artist magazine competition, and is one of 100 artists worldwide included in their 2004 book "100 Ways to Paint Seascapes, Rivers, and Lakes."
His own book, "A Vision of New Zealand," with 120 pages of colour reproduction, was released in Auckland, early in 2007. He is also included in the book "New Zealand's Favourite Artists," edited by Denis Robinson. (Both books by Saint Publishing.)
Coop's work features in many corporate and private collections both here and overseas. Two works hang in the Governor-General's Auckland residence and a diptych is in Auckland City Hospital's Fisher and Paykel Education Centre. His largest work is a 7-metre illuminated plastic mural, similar to stained glass, at the entrance to Auckland University's School of Medicine.
He creates precious icons of the New Zealand experience, midway between landscape and abstraction. The colour gold is used, as by mediaeval artists, to signify something precious, in this case our land.