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Artists•Julie Cockburn

Discover the artists behind the books

Self-portrait, 2017

A vase of flowers in my studio

Julie Cockburn (b.1966) lives and works in Suffolk, UK

– Home and studio — together or apart?
My studio is at the back of my house, overlooking the garden. I have to go through a small, dark utility room to reach it — that short journey is my commute and I arrive into a quiet space with white walls and a north light. It feels very different to the rest of my house. I love working at home. I can go to my studio at any time of day or night and put into practice an idea in my head and close the door on the mess at the end of the day.

– Do you have any daily rituals?
Because my work demands a level of discipline, my day is made up of many rhythmic rituals so that I dont veer off track and spend the day gardening. I walk my dog first thing every morning, usually in the local meadow, before answering emails, doing admin or interviews. Im in the studio by 11.00. Every night before I go to bed I go outside to look at the stars. I am always reassured when I can see the Orion constellation.

What is the first art book you remember?
I have inherited a beautiful book that belonged to my mum called Dali: A Study of his Art-In-Jewels. This was on the bottom shelf of a bookcase in our family home so easily accessible when we were kids. Its a beautifully produced book of Dalis surreal jewellery ruby lips with pearl teeth; golden leaf/hands with ruby nails. I remember being quite disturbed by the drops of blood and religious iconography rendered in diamonds, lapis lazuli and gold. I consider the childrens book Petit-Bleu et Petit-Jauneby Léo Lionni to be an art book too and was one of my childhood favourites.

What is your studio/creative soundtrack?
I work best when listening to a radio play or audio book. I think its the timbre of the spoken word that helps me to concentrate. I seldom listen to music when Im working.

– What is the favourite thing you have in your studio?
I dont have a favourite thing to be honest. Its a pragmatic rather than emotional space. But I do try to have a vase of flowers in there when I can.

– Did you always want to be an artist?
I always wanted to make things and would ask for craft kits for my birthday or Christmas. Its that same desire to use my hands that drives me today.

What does a free day look like?
I seldom have a planned free day. As a self-employed artist, I am never working hard enough, long enough. I never think I have enough work for the next exhibition, or enough sketches to elaborate on. I never have enough source material or future opportunities. So a planned day off is a luxury and I have to wrestle it from my inner critic.

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