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John Coppinger

John Coppinger was born 13th July 1947. He won a State Scholarship to Sevenoaks School in Kent, then studied at Maidstone College of Art and later at St. Martins School of Art in London.

His interest in the links between science and art led to a job as a scientific model maker for the Natural History Museum, London. Some of his models are still on display in the museum today.

In 1980 he left to pursue a career in the film industry, starting with Jim Henson’s ‘The Dark Crystal’; a fantasy movie that has achieved cult status. The second movie he worked on was ‘Return of the Jedi’; as an Animatronic Designer for renowned make-up artist, Stuart Freeborn. John was the sculptor of Jabba the Hutt and also operated the character’s eyes, via radio control, on set.

Between films he continued working as a freelance model maker for museums and TV productions, e.g. the BBC production ‘Walking with Dinosaurs’ and ‘The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures’ (2003 – 2010).

He also became involved in the ‘Thrust SSC’ project; going out to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, USA to help run the Supersonic Car that broke the land speed record in October 1997.