ARTIST TAKEOVER: Julie Cockburn | Discovering New Stories in Orphaned Images | PHOTOFAIRS

ARTIST TAKEOVER: Julie Cockburn | Discovering New Stories in Orphaned Images

This week, London-based artist Julie Cockburn took over our Instagram account in an eye-catching #ArtistTakeover. Cockburn's work, which will be exhibited at PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai 2019 with Flowers Gallery (London, New York & Hong Kong), is notable for its delicate craftsmanship. She transforms and manipulates found photographs through embellishments such as embroidery, beading and screen printing. The presentation of her works next month in Shanghai will coincide with the release of a monograph and a solo exhibition in London. 

We have paired all of Julie Cockburn's individual posts into one blog, we hope you enjoy the read as much as the team at PHOTOFAIRS did!


© Photo by Antonio Parente. Julie Cockburn, Flowers Gallery (London, New York & Hong Kong)

Hi, this is Julie Cockburn (Instagram: @juliecockburnartist), taking over the PHOTOFAIRS Instagram account for the next few days. I’m delighted to be bringing my work to PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai with Flowers Gallery in Booth D19. My work engages in the transformation of found photographs, discovering new stories in orphaned images using my own personal visual language. I work with found photographs - sourcing archetypal images of people, everyday objects and places such as formal studio portraits from the 1940s and 50s, holiday snaps, and amateur landscape and still life photography. I layer and embellish the images with hand embroidery, beading, screen printing and gestural painting, partially obscuring the images in a process I call the “paradoxical unmasking” of their intrinsic truths.

The Jester (below) will be on view at PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai on the Flowers Gallery booth D19.

© Julie Cockburn, The Jester, 2017. Courtesy of Flowers Gallery (London, New York & Hong Kong)

I often experiment with recurring patterns of shapes including spots, kaleidoscopes, Venn diagrams, harlequins, flower heads, and cages. In ‘Telling it Slant’, these portrait sitters are given a youthful intensity by entwining them with interlocking geometric grids of embroidered thread, or polka dot veils. 

Qualm, 2019 (below), will be shown in my forthcoming exhibition ‘Telling it Slant’ at Flowers Gallery, Kingsland Road, London, UK (12 September - 2 November 2019).

© Julie Cockburn, Qualm, 2019. Courtesy of Flowers Gallery (London, New York & Hong Kong)

Many of the works included in ‘Telling it Slant’ (Flowers Gallery, Kingsland Road) include figures or landscapes lassoed and draped with strings of beads. Sketching on my computer, I search for an emotional response to each individual image, intuitively working on the design until I settle on something that rings true.

Some of these truths feel satisfyingly obvious. In this image (below), Feed the Birds (Women), 2019, the composition emphasises the narrative within the photograph to create an uplifting encounter between the picture and the viewer. 

© Julie Cockburn, Feed the Birds (Women), 2019, C type print of found photograph, glass beads. Courtesy of Flowers Gallery (London, New York & Hong Kong)

My new monograph Stickybeak (below) will be published by Chose Commune in September 2019.

The work in this book was made over a period of twelve years, some one-off experiments, others part of ongoing series that I add to overtime. Each piece began with the search for the perfect image, setting some vaguely rigorous parameters for myself. I selected used postcards, old photographs, foxed bookplates and my own childhood drawings. And each of these foundlings had a different history, an unknown or forgotten story to tell. 

© Julie Cockburn, Stickybeak [book], Published by Chose Commune, 2019.

My process involves intense periods of manual work and precision combined with an irresistible, rebellious urge to discover whatever the imagination has to offer, through curiosity, risk-taking and play. This image (below) was the result of an experiment with marbling enamel paint, creating a surreal, dreamlike image. 

Blue Face (Man) will be shown in my forthcoming exhibition ‘Telling it Slant’ (Flowers Gallery, Kingsland Road).

© Julie Cockburn, Blue Face (Man), 2019. Courtesy of Flowers Gallery (London, New York & Hong Kong)

To learn more about the intricate and alluring works of Cockburn, visit our fair this September (20-22, Shanghai Exhibition Center).

Click here to buy your tickets today!