British artist Julie Cockburn buys vintage photographs at garage sales (aka car boot sales or jumble sales in the UK) only to destroy them. With a deft hand she splices and stitches old photographs in order to tell the stories she sees, or the stories she wants the photographs to tell today. Her craftsmanship appears effortless. Most of the flourishes she adds are applied with white correction fluid, colorful marker pens and hand embroidery.
Cockburn seems to have the most fun with portraits — studio shots of 1950s movie stars, school photos of anonymous teenagers. Her sense of possession is great. Of the original photographs, she says she has “a right to them, that they are mine for the taking, or rescuing even.” Like Mary Shelley, Cockburn is aware that she can conjure up a monster. And it can be lonely. “The dialogue that I pretend to have with these richly colourful characters who I embellish, manipulate, torture and caress, is actually a conversation only with myself.” Cockburn’s first monograph which features her portraits is entitled Conversations (Tycoon Books, Japan, 2012). She will speak and sign books at Yossi Milo Gallery in New York, where her show Slight Exposure will be on view, December 12-2013-January 25, 2014.