Diana Heather Pickering Copley was born at Brewood Hall, Staffordshire. At the astonishing age of 14 she enrolled at Clapham School of Art, remaining there for six years until 1939, supported by a London County Council Intermediate Scholarship. A three-year Senior County Scholarship took her to the Royal College of Art in 1940, the year she married fellow painter Christopher Chamberlain, although her studies were interrupted by service in ARP (Air Raid Precautions) in 1940-41. In 1945, Copley returned to the Royal College where her tutors included Carel Weight, an important influence on her work. From 1948 to 1983, she taught drawing and painting part-time at St Martin's, then one of Britain's most lively and influential schools. Her husband Christopher Chamberlain spent many years as an influential teacher at Camberwell.
Although she never had a solo exhibition, Copley participated in mixed shows, including Arts Council travelling exhibitions. In 1951, she gained the Lord Mayor's Art Award, second prize, in a show of London paintings at the Guildhall. Her picture of Lake Trasimeno in the 1978 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition was chosen for purchase by the President and Council under the terms of the Harrison Weir Fund. Many foreign collectors bought from Copley, notably the actor Edward G. Robinson, a noted connoisseur. "I think he was very drunk when he bought my work," she said.
(Condensed from David Buckman's Obituary for Heather Copley, published in The Independent, 5th December 2001) Full for the Independent obituary please click here