Saturday, 10 October 2015


THE JERWOOD SPACE, London 6.10.15

Ink and Embroidery on altered found photograph

Julie Cockburn's embellishment of found paintings and photographs by embroidering, painting and reassembling, delivers the images out of redundancy into a meaningful present." - Jonathan P Watts

I have written about this artist's work before ( Blog 158 BOND), but here it is in the shortlist of 58 artists at this year's Jerwood Drawing Prize Exhibition, the largest and longest running annual open exhibition for drawing in the UK. The drawings selected were those "that had the energy of a personal vision, and showed dedication to the medium”.

Julie Cockburn discovers 'worthless' paraphernalia such as printed paper, books, paintings, photographs and ceramics - possibly physically worn out and so familiar as to be invisible - and transforms them into something crafted, unique, mysterious and challenging. One of her strengths is that she allows the found objects to dictate the piece, rather than using them to force an intellectual or political view on us. Her playful creativity draws us into her journey of labour and creation. She challenges the way we see things and visually digest them.

I have a special relationship with conceptual art because of the late lamented  collagist and illustrator, and chief art critic of the Independent, Tom Lubbock. His writings changed my life.  One of his unforgettable essays was about an electric toaster. though I cannot remember the details except that red velvet was involved. 

This is how a contemporary toaster is described by its special features: defrost, reheat, bagel and cancel controls with LED indicator lights, high lift for removing smaller pieces of toast, variable browning control, variable width bread slots with self centering guides for thick and thin pieces of bread...and so on. Tom Lubbock's esssay was also based on various things you might do with a toaster. It was hilarious, thought-provoking, absurd and unforgettable.  Kevin Jackson, in Lubbock's obituary in the Guardian wrote that the artist "could .... be howlingly funny. His essay about conceptual art, based on various things you might do with a toaster, should be mounted in every modern art gallery as a contribution to public sanity".
I will try to track the essay down and pass it on.

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