Julie Cockburn. Layer Opacity

7 Oct 2016 – 13 Nov 2016

Regular hours

11:00 – 19:00
11:00 – 19:00
11:00 – 19:00
11:00 – 19:00
11:00 – 19:00

The Photographers' Gallery

London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Just off Oxford Street so accessible by bus services to Oxford Street and a 2 minute walk from Oxford Circus Tube Station.

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Layer Opacity focuses on the multifaceted nature of Cockburn’s delicate craftsmanship whilst referencing and making use of software algorithms for the categorisation of digital images.


Julie Cockburn is renowned for reimaging and reconfiguring found objects and vintage photographs into meticulously constructed and unique contemporary artworks. Having trained as a sculptor at London’s Central Saint Martins, Cockburn approaches each work as if working with a three-dimensional form. Using embroidery, collage and painterly techniques, she transforms the found prints – adding a layer of bold geometric patterns, stitching or gestural scrawls – rendering the original subject almost unrecognisable. By recontextualising the image, Cockburn opens up the work to new possibilities of narrative and interpretation, provoking dialogue between the contemporary and the historical, gender and identity, the real and the fabricated.

Featuring over thirty portrait and landscape images, Layer Opacity introduces a new experimental approach for the artist. Struck by the increasing authority of computer algorithms over the categorisation of digital images, Cockburn set out to explore how her own work would be digested and classified within this system. She fed her prints through an image recognition software and found her work was matched to various photos of objects such as marbles, 3D glasses, a Chinese vase, etc. The objects were then sourced and are now displayed beside her prints in the exhibition space. The pairings evoke a playful sense of humour while also hinting at the continuing cycle of re-appropriation in Cockburn’s work.

"I am using a partial abstraction of the figurative photograph to explore the unseen nuances in the original. I suppose that by delving into the photograph, with inquisitiveness as well as a knife or needle, I am adding to the original, both physically and emotionally. It's like having a conversation, asking and answering questions about character, place, memory and composition. I hope that with my interventions, I am inviting the viewer to do the same thing."

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Exhibiting artists

Julie Cockburn


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