Stephen Copland studied at the National Art School, Sydney (ASTC Diploma in Painting,1969-1972), in 1988 he was awarded a Graduate Diploma in Education (University of Technology Sydney) and a Masters of Fine Art, University of New South Wales (1995). In 2013 he was awarded a Doctor of Creative Arts, University of Wollongong. He has been visiting lecturer at Darwin University, Northern Territory and Assistant Professor University of Sharjah, College of Fine Art and Design, United Arab Emirates and has conducted workshops/lectures at Vermont State College, Burlington USA, Universite Saint Espirt de Kaslik, Lebanon, International Kongress Fur Kunstlerische Bildung Kirchliche Padagogische Hochschule, Graz, Austria.
Copland's art shifted direction in 1990 after the discovery of heritage objects from a painting and drawing practice to an interdisciplinary focus. The subjective and symbolic aspects of identities in transit, themes of migration and human rights have been at the forefront of his practice. Since 1986 he has had 33 solo national and international exhibitions, including exhibitions in museums in Cuba, New Zealand and Melbourne. Copland has been a selected finalist in the Wynne, Sulman and Blake Art Prizes.
His Migration Series 1992-2002, a project of international exhibitions earned him a Commendation Award from the Consulate General of Lebanon (1999). He is the recipient of a number of awards and cultural grants including a Migration Heritage Grant, an International Programs Grant - NSW Ministry for the Arts, a Vermont Studio Center Grant and was recently awarded in 2011 the Moya Dyring Studio, Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris AGNSW.
In 2006 Copland was invited to conduct workshops on migration heritage at Art Education Models and Perspectives, Grazer Congress Graz and Europe Compact V Paedagogische Akademie Graz, Austria. The multimedia CD-ROM Migration Series was presented at the Symposium - New Media and the Global Diaspora Roger Williams University, Bristol, Rhode Island (2007). In 2008 he was invited to present at NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo Shaping the Future of International Education Washington, DC, USA, and the 32nd InSEA World Congress at the international Society for Education through Art, Osaka, Japan.
In 2009 Copland was keynote speaker (and presented workshops to art educators) at the International Congress for Art Education ITATE Graz, Austria. His work was selected for the touring 5th International Artists' Book Triennial Vilnius, Leipzig Book Fair Germany (April), including Galerija Arla Vilnius, Lietuva (May), Art Centre Silkeborg Bad, Denmark (September), Gallery Hubner Bokform, Halmstad, Sweden (Spring 2010), Seoul International Book Arts Fair, Korea and for Dog-Eared: Revealing the contents of artists books, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana USA. Raft – the Drifting Border, Macquarie University Art Gallery (2009) reflects Copland’s interest in utilising art as voice for human rights and social justice. He was invited artist for publication in the 2010 December issue of Human Rights Defender, a tri-annual magazine, Australian Human Rights Centre, University of New South Wales.