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05 May 2011

Julie Cockburn at Matt Roberts Arts

The Adulterer (2011), Mixed Media, Julie Cockburn

'The Foul Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart'
Matt Roberts Arts


6th May - 29th May 2011 Friday to Sunday (12.00 - 18.00)

Matt Roberts

Matt Roberts Arts
Unit 1, 25 Vyner Street,
London, E2 9DG
United Kingdom

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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:

' There is something that happens beyond my control…it is greater than the sum of its simple parts, becoming a new image with a new history to unfurl and, by association, a new memory. Perhaps it is something about the vulnerability of being human that I am trying to address. '

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.

The world may never have missed the original cast, but through her empathic interaction with the characters, Cockburn invites us to wonder who they might have been and, possibly, who we are.

Julie 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.

Julie Cockburn lives and works in London. She studied at Chelsea College of Art and Central St Martins College of Art and Design. She has exhibited extensively in the UK, Europe and the United States. 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.