September 17, 2019

Julie Cockburn, Plumage 1, 2019

If there’s one thing we love, it’s the cackle of a seagull: they always sound like they’ve played a hilarious prank you; or know something you don’t. We’re also total suckers for bright colours and collage, so this confluence of all three in one striking image by artist Julie Cockburn is a true joy to behold. Currently on show as part of her solo exhibition at Flowers Gallery in east London, titled Telling It Slant (an allusion to an Emily Dickinson poem), the work has a gorgeous tactility to it—a testament perhaps to her training as a sculptor. This work, as with the others in her show, uses found photographs ranging from 1940s and fifties photo portraits to forgotten holiday snaps and amateur landscape and still life photography sourced from the likes of junk shops, car boot sales and eBay. These have been modified using embroidery; splicing with other images; overlaying with patterns, spots or Venn diagrams; and other embellishments, bringing them new meanings and a surrealism not unlike the work of Hannah Höch.

Cockburn describes this process as “paradoxically unmasking” the meanings within the images, and aims for the intricacies behind each work and their newly hand-wrought physicality to encourage viewers to slow down the way they view images, in what the gallery describes as “today’s fast-paced, immaterial digital culture”. The exhibition, on show until 2 November, coincides with the release of Cockburn’s first comprehensive monograph, titled Stickybeak and published by Chose Commune.

 

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