There’s something quietly enchanting about the work of Julie Cockburn. Her mixed media creations, which typically incorporate found objects and careful embroidery, poke fun at the graphically mundane – stylised old photographs, maps and family portraits – but always with a good dose of whimsy and charm.
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Her new show, Bridging the Generation Gap at the Forster Gallery in London, brings together young and old. Rudimentary children’s drawings, found by the artist, are embroidered with neat detail – an intricate diamond shape is transposed over simple patterns in one case (‘Brilliance’) and a rough egg-shaped design is meticulously replicated in another (‘Ego Ego’) – while other more staid images are crassly embellished. A coiffed woman’s mouth is stuffed full of bubblegum in ‘Gum Bubble’ and the regal face of another is overlaid with a cartoonish grin in ‘Smile’.
It’s artistic iconoclasm in the best sense. By giving close technical attention to the ostensibly childish and subtley mocking the stiffly respectable, she elevates the one and disarms the other, bridging the gap, so to speak, and leaving us all with a smile.