A new series of hand-altered portrait photographs, transformed by embroidered and painted embellishments, study the social territory of everyday encounters between strangers. With this work, Julie Cockburn draws parallels between the equally contemplative spaces of the gallery and the waiting room and looks to the unspoken human interactions that occur here.
Cockburn is interested in the ‘un-choreographed dance’ invoked by such awkwardly shared spaces, and the impulsive judgments we make about one another, the fantastical histories, biographies and characters projected onto unknown faces.
In reassembling, stitching into and over-painting studio portraits from the 1940’s and 1950’s, Cockburn makes tangible the emotions that she takes from the people or places in the found images. Geometric patterns and gestural scrawls stitched in brightly coloured thread transform the head and shoulders of the sitter; Cockburn initially conceives these balanced colour combinations digitally before taking her needle to the original print so that the amendments appear in striking contrast to the de-saturated vintage photographs.
Re-contextualising each image, Cockburn opens up new, imaginative possibilities for the lives of the anonymous sitter. For her, this process mirrors sitting in the waiting room, making up stories about the strangers in the room and inviting the audience to join her in lingering and engaging in playful assumptions and musings about the unfamiliar.
Julie Cockburn: Waiting Room, until 10 January, Flowers Gallery, 82 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8DP. For more information visit www.flowersgallery.com
Read our interview with Cockburn in the current issue of Aesthetica, visit www.aestheticamagazine.com/shop.
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1. Julie Cockburn, The Lioness, 2014. Copyright: Julie-Cockburn. Courtesy of Flowers.