FOR well over a century the Heaton Cooper’s have been at the forefront of Lakeland art with three generations of revered artists.

Alfred Heaton Cooper was the founding father of the glorious dynasty and blazed a trail for landscape painting.

His son William, born in 1903, built on the artistic foundations his father had laid and was highly influential and his knowledge and understanding of Lake District affairs ranged from its geological structure to its social issues.

And few painters can capture nature’s soaring peaks and their vertiginous sides quite like William's son Julian Cooper, one of the world’s finest mountain painters.

Alfred’s great granddaughter Rebecca, also a talented artist, these days plays a major role in the Heaton Cooper Studio family business, in Grasmere, selling art materials.

From Monday, May 18, the Grasmere studio hosts Ophelia Gordon Bell: A Vital Spirit, an exhibition highlighting the extraordinary talent of one of the most distinguished sculptors of the 20th century, who was also William's wife.

Born in London in 1915 and brought up among the artists of St John’s Wood in London, Ophelia was equally at home in the Lake District where her maternal grandfather was vicar of Urswick, near Ulverston.

Trained in London, she exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts, and the Royal Scottish Academy.

Perhaps her most celebrated work is the bronze head of mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary.

Son Julian is curating the new exhibition, and says that his mother was truly a vital spirit.

"Everyone who met Ophelia was struck by her. Even if they did not know of her artistic skill, they were witnesses to her great vitality and kindness.

“She was a most remarkable woman, bringing together the two enormously contrasting worlds of London and the Lakes, and bringing immense vitality to everything she created”.