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Artist transforms vintage photographs into unique contemporary artworks by embroidering across their surfaces

Goran Blazeski

British artist Julie Cockburn transforms found vintage photographs into unique contemporary artworks, through collage, embroidery and painterly techniques. She uses found images from eBay, garage sales, and secondhand shops and by adding a layer of bold geometric patterns, Cockburn removes their original context and transforms the once forgotten photographs into intriguing kaleidoscopic patterns.

‘Honeymoon 7’, 2016. Hand embroidery on found photograph. Photo Credit

‘Honeymoon 7’, 2016. Hand embroidery on found photograph. Photo Credit

“I sometimes think photographs need an extra dimension—something to do with the lack of physical texture promised by the image. A successful piece is one where my intervention appears almost to belong to the original. My job, as I see it, is to discover the formal, textural, and compositional layer that will ultimately appear integral to the photograph,” Cockburn told the Morning News

‘Point of View’, 2014. Hand embroidery on found photograph. Photo Credit

‘Point of View’, 2014. Hand embroidery on found photograph. Photo Credit

Born in 1966, Cockburn received a BA in sculpture from the Central St. Martins College of Art and Design, London and studied at Chelsea College of Art, London. Today, the artist is represented by Flowers Gallery and by The Photographers’ Gallery in London.

‘Gwendoline’, 2016. Hand embroidery on found photograph. Photo Credit

‘Gwendoline’, 2016. Hand embroidery on found photograph. Photo Credit

 

‘Mr. Optimistic’, 2014. Hand embroidery on found photograph. Photo Credit

‘Mr. Optimistic’, 2014. Hand embroidery on found photograph. Photo Credit

Although Cockburn is not a photographer herself, she found her inspiration in vintage photographs that are now the basic foundation of her art. The artist works with a range of found images, including landscapes, but she focuses mostly on historic portraits (many of them in black and white), images she discovered in high school yearbooks, photographs of rich society ladies from the past, young girls, portraits of children and the like.

‘Family Outing’, 2014. Acrylic on giclee print. Photo Credit

‘Family Outing’, 2014. Acrylic on giclee print. Photo Credit

As written on the official website of Flowers Gallery, Cockburn has exhibited at The New Art Gallery Walsall; The Photographers’ Gallery, London; Arnhem Museum of Modern Art, The Netherlands; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; ICA, London; Wellcome Collection, London; Jerwood Space, London; and the Yale Centre for British Art, USA. If you want to see more of Cockburn’s work, check her Official Website, Instagram, and Facebook Page.

‘Viewpoint’, 2012. Hand embroidery on found photograph. Photo Credit

‘Viewpoint’, 2012. Hand embroidery on found photograph. Photo Credit

 

‘Morphine’, 2014. Hand embroidery on found photograph. Photo Credit

‘Morphine’, 2014. Hand embroidery on found photograph. Photo Credit

 

‘The Disagreement’, 2014. Acrylic on giclee print. Photo Credit

‘The Disagreement’, 2014. Acrylic on giclee print. Photo Credit

 

‘Shell Shocked 1’, 2010. Altered found oil painting. Photo Credit

‘Shell Shocked 1’, 2010. Altered found oil painting. Photo Credit

 

‘Quizitive’, 2016. Hand embroidery on found photograph. Photo Credit

‘Quizitive’, 2016. Hand embroidery on found photograph. Photo Credit

 

‘Lineage’, 2016. Photo Credit

‘Lineage’, 2016. Photo Credit

 

‘The Telepath’, 2014. Hand embroidery on found photograph. Photo Credit

‘The Telepath’, 2014. Hand embroidery on found photograph. Photo Credit

Most of the found photos or paintings transformed by Cockburn have been lost by their original owners and she revitalizes them, both physically and emotionally.

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Cockburn will exhibit work with The Photographers’ Gallery at The Photography Show presented by AIPAD on March 30th through to April 2nd, 2017, on New York City’s Pier 94.