Frances Cockburn

Frances Cockburn, Main Street West, oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches

Frances Cockburn lives and works in Hamilton, Ontario. Her work is inspired by her surroundings, be they the streets of her neighbourhood, nearby landscapes or people close to her. Cockburn paints from photographs and video stills as a way of further documenting something that catches her eye. Cockburn chooses to paint water because it encourages abstraction. The artist is fascinated with how the subject is distorted by refraction and reflections, thereby allowing for work that is realistic and recognizable to still resonate despite her loose and expressive brushstrokes. Increasingly a focus in her work, Cockburn aims to paint ‘wetness’ – the quality of water – while letting the paint itself be part of the story, using visible brush strokes, drips, layers of broken colour and abstract passages.

Main Street West exemplifies this approach and the role water plays in Cockburn’s work. The painting evolved from a photograph of street lights reflecting on a wet road at night. In the artist’s words, “a rainy street at night has richer colours and higher contrast – the visual elements are more exciting, and the fluid shapes are more engaging.” 

Cockburn holds a BA in Fine Art and Computer Science from the University of Guelph. Her work has been exhibited in both solo and group shows throughout Ontario, including the Odon Wagner Contemporary (Toronto), the Flesherton Art Gallery (Flesherton), the Carnegie Gallery (Dundas), the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery (Owen Sound), and the MacLaren Art Centre (Barrie). Cockburn’s work has been recognized by the Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts, and she has participated in the Pouch Cove Foundation Visual Artist residency program in Newfoundland. Cockburn is represented by Odon Wagner Contemporary, Toronto.