12 September – 2 November, 2019 at Flowers gallery London
In the nineteenth century, long before the current era of fake news, Emily Dickinson wrote a meditation on truth in her poem “Tell all the Truth but Tell it Slant“. With a title alluding to the poem, this exhibition of Julie Cockburn’s latest work similarly excavates authentic stories by circuitous means. Using a rich material language, Cockburn embarks on a visual journey to delicately reveal narrative histories and layered meanings in lost and discarded images.
Cockburn overlays the images with recurring patterns of shapes including spots, kaleidoscope, Venn diagrams, harlequins, flower heads, and cages, formally balanced with the existing composition in response to imagined to internal dialogues. In this exhibition, enlarged prints of portrait sitters are given newfound vigour by dazzling polka dot veils, while groups of figures are entwined by pixel-like interlocking geometric grids of embroidered thread. Other figures and objects are lassoed with draped strings of beads and fibre braids or combined with a surrealist enamel cloudscape. Working with the moving image for the first time, The Five Sense offers a discomfiting viewpoint, aligning the entrapment of a rigid sitter in the photographic portrait with the animated movements of a captured insect.
Originally trained as a sculptor, Cockburn’s material transformation of two-dimensional found photographs releases them from their temporal suspension as images of the past and delivers them into the present with a newfound physical resonance. Cockburn’s meticulous attention to craft and celebration of the “handmade” can be seen as a rejection of the processes and ideals of generic mass-production, rendering physically worn objects precious again and freighted with different values. Through her imaginative interventions and careful reexamination of the photographic of viewing images and a visceral a slower experience of viewing images and a visceral alternative to today’s fast-paced, immaterial digital culture.
Flowers Gallery, 82 Kingsland Road London E2 8DP