The inside out art of Cornelia Parker

Her art is exploded, shot, turned back to front and rearranged in surprising ways. Cornelia Parker sees objects not for their beautiful exterior but as shattered parts of a whole.

Currently showing at Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) the British artist is redefining ideas that are broken down or turned on its ear and bringing her collective imagination to vibrant brilliance.

Cornelia Parker in the House of Commons where the video recording of 'Left Right & Centre' was filmed. Source: MCA

Cornelia Parker was born in 1956 in Cheshire, England. She studied at the Gloucestershire College of Art and Wolverhampton Polytechnic. She received her MFA from Reading University in 1982.

In 1997, Parker was shortlisted for the Turner Prize along with three other contestants.

Described by one critic as “one of the most adventurous and innovative artists working today” it is the first major survey exhibition of the artist’s work in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Sydney-exclusive exhibition features over 40 artworks from across the artist’s career, known for her large-scale installations, embroideries, works on paper, video works, and a selection of small-scale sculptures and objects.

The everyday objects Parker assembles are turned into “unexpected, haunting scenarios” and all of the “domestic and familiar items are rearranged in often surprising ways”.

Besides her sculptures and installation works, including drawing, photography and films, Parker positions her subjects as if suspended in time and frozen in the moment.

Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View (1991) Souce: Eva Pang
Cold Dark Matter (1991)

Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View (1991), a dramatic sculpture that recreates the moment when a garden shed was exploded by the British Army. The stillness of this sculpture gives a close-up of the very moment of explosion as if going back in time and time has paused, seeing everything right there before your eyes.

In Subconscious of a Monument (2001–2005), Parker filled the gallery with earth taken by engineers from underneath the Leaning Tower of Pisa (to stabilise the tower). This art piece shows that even the little things has its importance which plays a big part of a historical building.

Earth taken by engineers from underneath the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Source: Eva Pang
Subconscious of a Monument (2001-2005)

War Room (2015) is a vast and immersive tent-like installation made from the remnants of the 45 million remembrance poppies created by the Poppy Factory in Richmond each year. The War Room is draped fully in the red poppy cut-out paper. This room is a place that encourages you to think about those lives that are lost and fought in the war.

The exhibition highlights include Thirty Pieces of Silver (1988–1989), a large-scale suspended artwork comprising of over 1000 silver-plated objects such as plates, spoons and candlesticks that were flattened by a steamroller; 

Left Right & Centre film was made when she was invited to be an election artist during the General Election campaign.

Left Right & Centre by Cornelia Parker. Source: UK Parliament on YouTube.

The short film features a collection of newspapers from the ongoing 2017 General Election campaign period and events that followed. It emphasises the opinions of those on the Left, Right and Centre of the debate. This was filmed in the dark and in the light of the next day to capture two different point of views.

If you’re interested in something unique, abstract and vintage retro, this art installation is for you.

Cornelia Parker is at the MCA, Circular Quay West, until 16 February 2020.