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Cardiff Character: Julia Brooker

Through bold colours and brave strokes, Julia Brooker has made a name for herself in the art world, both at home and abroad

Julia Brooker stands in front of her latest creation soon to be sent to a buyer in Japan. She says she found inspiration for this piece by walking around silver birch forests

Sitting in her luminous studio, Julia Brooker is surrounded by colour. She has created a world of her own, one that is inviting and radiant. Propped up on nearly every wall, her work welcomes you with huge expanses of electric blue, gold and silver. Her paintings are immense but not overpowering, tall and yet not imposing. They blend effortlessly into their surroundings, filling the room with light and warmth.

Originally from Surrey, Julia did not start out an artist. Her first career was in housing development.

Although her work offered a much-needed stability to raise her son as a single mother, she says art, and more importantly colour, had always been at the forefront of her mind.

She recalls describing colours to her blind grandmother as a child and can remember to this day the patterns she was wearing even before starting school.

A change of scenery

It was only when her son left for University that she decided to learn more about painting. “When he went away for Uni, I thought ‘I want to do that too!’ So I did,” she remembers.

Then in her forties, Julia enrolled in a two-year pre-degree course called Foundation in Cardiff. She did not set out to practice art as a career but after the two years, decided to enrol in a full-time undergraduate course.

To fund her studies, she chose to teach housing development and law at Cardiff University every Wednesday.

“It was weird,” she says, “but working one day a week was enough to keep me going.”

Julia adds an extra coat of varnish on her painting to make the colours shine even brighter

Colour and reflections  

It took Julia around five years to refine her style and decide on what sort of paint and material to use. She knew she wanted colour to be a focal point in her work and set out to find a way to accentuate this.

“If you use aluminium as a background, you can play with the light reflectiveness of it”

After finding inspiration through Jason Martin’s art on aluminium, she decided to paint using only that material. She explains, “If you use aluminium as a background, you can play with the light reflectiveness of it.”

For this reason, the colours in Julia’s work are almost iridescent when moved to the light. Of course, as with many artists, she initially had some trouble with the technique, “The paint always kept slipping off,” she laughs.

She says she often experiments with paint and will not hesitate to pour it on the aluminium or even swipe it on with rags. This gives her work an almost three-dimensional effect.

Now in her fifties, Julia has been painting for 18 years and has grown with her art. She often creates art on commission for buyers based in Hong Kong, China and Japan.

Julia’s artwork is gaining recognition in the Land of the Rising Sun and she is hoping to hold an exhibition in the centre of Tokyo as well as in the OPAM Museum of Oita, South Japan.

Julia does not hold public exhibitions but does accept private viewings of her artwork at her studio in Cardiff.

You can visit her website here

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