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New Relevance: Art by Julie Cockburn

An artwork consisting of embroidered thread on a found photoThe Conundrum, hand embroidery on found photograph

Julie Cockburn is a London-based artist whose current body of work explores antique photographs and abstract interventions. The artist often layers colourful geometric compositions over black and white portraits and other found art pieces to bring new relevance to obsolete artefacts. 

An artwork consisting of coloured circled embroidered over an old couple photographHoneymoon Period 7, hand embroidery on found photograph


The aesthetics of Cockburn’s recent works are reminiscent in many ways of John Baldessari pieces. The bright colours and simple shapes could event hearken to Damien Hirst’s dot paintings, though Cockburn’s images take a more immediate conceptual approach. 


I appreciate the way that Cockburn uses techniques drawn from arts and crafts and sewing practices to embellish some of her works. The use of embroidered elements on photographs, for example, seems to express a reverence for the era from which the photographs hail, a nod toward the types of labour that the subjects of such photographs would have likely participated in. In this way, the artist fosters a sense of familiarity with the subjects of her artworks.

A photograph of a man manipulated with geometric shapesMindfulness 1, altered found photographer

About the author

Dallas Jeffs Art Writer

Dallas Jeffs is the Editor of Artist Run Website's blog. They hold a degree in Critical and Cultural Practices from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, as well as a certificate in Technical Writing from BCIT. Dallas has a passion for speaking and writing about art, and sharing that interest with others. In their studio practice they are an illustrator and budding tattoo artist, but they consider themselves a writer foremost. If you like art, books and culture with a science fiction twist, check out Dallas' personal blog, HappySpaceNoises or their art on Instagram.

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