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11 Things You Didn’t Know About Cornelia Parker


Knowledge can be gained at any age. After having a detailed study on topics there are things unknown to us. So, we at Abirpothi present before you the lesser-known facts about artists around the world.

Cornelia Parker

My work has threads of ideas from all over the place. I try to crystallise them in something simple and direct that the viewer can then take where they want.

-Cornelia Parker

Cornelia Parker is a renowned British visual artist known for her conceptual and sculptural works that often involve discarded objects and everyday materials. Her work explores themes of transformation, death, and destruction, and she is particularly interested in the ways in which objects can be transformed through various processes. One of her most famous works is Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View which consists of the remains of a garden shed blown up by the British Army and then suspended in mid-air, casting dark shadows all around. Parker has exhibited extensively in the UK and internationally, and is recognized to have changed the trajectory of contemporary visual art and how artists dealt with mediums. She was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1997.

11 lesser-known facts about Cornelia Parker
  1. Cornelia Parker began experimenting with silver after a strange conversation she had with a silversmith. After visiting a silver workshop she saw that someone on engraving on the silver pieces. These hand engravings would leave little tiny specks of silver residue that fascinated Parker. She asked the craftsman if he needed those remnants, and when he said no, she took those scraps home in a jam jar. She has since produced many works using silver, her most significant being Thirty Pieces of Silver (1988-89), a large-scale installation of suspended and flattened silver objects including teapots, candle sticks, and dinnerware.

    Thirty Pieces of Silver (1988-9) by Cornelia Parker Courtesy: Tate
  2. Parker was recently awarded a CBE in 2022 for her artistic contributions. CBE stands for Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and it is the highest-ranking Order of the British Empire award, excluding knighthood.
  3. Parker collaborated with the Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton on the latter’s performance piece titled The Maybe (1995). This piece was conceived and performed by Swinton and Cornelia had created the installation for it. Tilda would lie down in the middle of a glass cage for the performance, seemingly asleep, an object ready to be gazed at by the visitors of the gallery.
  4. Parker is known for using unusual and strange materials. The strangest material she has used might have been her series titled Pornographic Drawings, where she used ferric oxide components from confiscated video tapes.

    Pornographic Drawing (1996) by Cornelia Parker
    Courtesy: Tate
  5. Parker did not grow up privileged and did not have easy access to the art world. As a child, she was a voracious reader of art history books. She recalls,

    “As a working-class girl, receiving free school dinners, I studied art history. Having never had the chance to visit art galleries, I devoured the knowledge, and it has served me well as a practicing artist.”

  6. In 2017, Parker served as the official election artist for the UK general elections. She was the first woman to take that position. 
  7. In order to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in 2015, Parker created a 13-meter hand-embroidered tapestry of the charter’s Wikipedia page.

    A detail from Magna Carta (An Embroidery) by Cornelia Parker
    Courtesy: The Guardian
  8. Believe it or not, Cornelia had her signature fringe since the age of 19. She remarked that it was because she was extremely worried about having fine lines. 
  9. Fleeting Monument was one of Parker’s first impactful installations, made in 1985. This installation was made from lead casts of the handle of an ornamental bell. The cast was shaped like a copy of Big Ben which Parker found in a tourist shop in central London. She created hundreds of casts from one mould, during which process the clock tower gradually lost its definition.

    Fleeting Moment (1985) by Cornelia Parker
    Courtesy: Tate
  10. Climate change has become one of the artist’s key concerns in recent years as she realized the precariousness of the world after having a conversation with her daughter.  
  11. Parker has always concerned herself with war and destruction. Perhaps a reason for that is how close to home war was for her; her own mother was from Germany and had served as a nurse in Luftwaffe, Nazi Germany’s ariel squad, during the Second World War. 

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