The Foul Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart
Julie Cockburn

5th May - 29th May 2011

Julie Cockburn’s mixed media works transform idealised models of their time, carefully obliterating them with collaged or stitched bindings. As if highlighting something invisible in the original text, Cockburn reveals a drama of the everyman through a manipulation of found photographic and painted portraits. Retrieving characters from obscurity, Cockburn takes ownership of their fates, cherishing them and creating something monstrously exquisite.

Traditionally portraiture was used to convey the status of the depicted: their role, their beauty, their assets, their power, how we wish others to see and think of us. However Cockburn denies the viewer the ability to connect with the subjects in this way. The people that are scarred and scored into are riddles of identity. The works are meticulous, carefully sourced and appropriated. Playing with contrasts between mass-produced and hand crafted, perfection and deformity, Cockburn’s pieces project a macabre quiet, fragile, fragmented and very human.

Cockburn’s influences include the traditions of Cubist painting and the craft techniques of inlay and embroidery. “The Adulterer” a fragmented face of an upstanding gentleman, uses geometric patterning to describe a fractured pride or multi-faceted psyche. “Buttercup Girl” is a bittersweet assemblage of a young woman whose gaze is destined to meet us/the world through an airtight, acrid yellow. “Mary”, an embroidered tattoo work, combines melancholy and strength, the sitter’s thoughtful pose is highlighted by carefully chosen embroidery threads that trace the contours of her face. In “Caja” the framework of a black embroidered cage is sculpted onto a photograph of a seemingly carefree woman, subtly inviting the viewer into a 3-dimensional confinement where we might begin a process of empathy and insight.

Julie Cockburn was exhibited as part of the Salon Art Prize 2010 and selected from a shortlist of 65 artists for the Selectors’ prize, supported by John Jones. Her work is included in the collections of Yale Center for British Art, The Wellcome Collection, British Land and Goss-Michael Foundation as well as numerous private collections.

To download a copy of the exhibition catalogue click here.

Top: Julie Cockburn 'Caja'
© Matt Roberts Arts 2010