Author: James Anderson
Abstract artist Ali Cockburn draws her inspiration from her surroundings at her beach front home in Ballito. Her striking creations have been noticed worldwide and her work has been featured in the Agora Gallery in New York where she broke the gallery record by selling a piece in under 20 minutes, the Frieze Art Fair in London and, closer to home, in The Gallery at Lifestyle Centre. Following a career in public relations, Cockburn has transformed herself into a successful artist later in life. Cockburn (55) spent most of her professional life running the rat race in Joburg, but turned a hobby into her primary career 6 years ago and the change is paying dividends.
With a recognisable style, Cockburn brings natural themes to life with acrylic and resin paintings using a specific pouring technique. This means brushstrokes are notably absent in her work and the finished product is achieved using a combination of mixing and drying tools in a process that she is unwilling to disclose. “I guess if I told you my process then I would have to kill you,” she laughs, “All I can say is that I use a blowtorch to get rid of the air bubbles – the rest is a trade secret.”
With a home studio surrounded by natural bush and a view of the ocean, it is easy to see where much of the inspiration for her work comes from. “I have always been a huge nature lover so to have this scenery available from my studio is a blessing and clearly an inspiration for my work.” Translating that inspiration into a resonant piece of art is a different challenge however, and Cockburn is the first to admit that it does not always work out as planned.
“I achieve the colour in my paintings during the mixing stage so the final product is always different and I am constantly finding interesting patterns and textures once the pouring is done.” A perfectionist at heart, this means a lot of wasted paint for Cockburn but the discovery is worth the effort. Aside from the range of wall art that she produces, Cockburn also lends her prints to table linen, cushion covers and wallpaper.