Born in 1910 Hooper spent his childhood in Gorakhpur, India, with his Indian mother and British father. In 1922 in came to Britain to continue his secondary education and by 1931 was enrolled at the Slade andi n 1932 switched to the Royal Academy Schools, where he thrived, picking up several medals and travel scholarships, including the prestigious Rome scholarship in 1935.
Colour and light were his dominant memories of childhood in India. Soon after his return from Europe in the mid 1930s, England was at war and he was invited to join Kenneth Clark’s Recording Britain scheme as one of a small group of artists commissioned to create works that would, “...boost morale by celebrating the country’s natural beauty and architectural heritage” (V&A).
From the late 1950s, Hooper discovered a new stylistic variety and virtuosity.
In 1958 he experienced a reawakening of memories of colour and texture from his Indian childhood. His palette and his use of mixed media blossomed into a riot of colour and activity. The subjects he chose did not change significantly; still-life, landscape, portraits and music remained his focuses, but the way in which he used colour began to alter.
Hooper's friendship with the artist Duncan Grant was enormously influential on him, as was contact with Grant's home, Charleston Farmhouse in Sussex. Another key contemporary influence was the welsh artist Ceri Richards who encouraged Hooper's interest in collage and mixed media.