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Cornelia Parker’s works derive from a variety of starting points: a garden shed, The Little Mermaid, Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss, a sleeping Tilda Swinton, the chancellor’s red budget box and cracks in a pavement, to name but a few.
To mark the reopening of Manchester’s Whitworth Gallery on 14 February, she has created a new work, which she describes as “a Blakean pyrotechnic display and meteorite shower”. Scientist Kostya Novoselov, who won the Nobel prize for the discovery of graphene, extracted graphite from the drawings of artists held in the Whitworth collection, including William Blake, and made it into graphene. Parker then used this to make the work of art, and a sensor activated by Novoselov’s breath will set off the “firework display”.
The newly refurbished gallery is also playing host to her largest exhibition to date, showcasing such iconic works as Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View (1991) and The Distance (a kiss with string attached) (2003). Known for her explosive works, crossing the line between science and art, Parker spoke to us about why she wouldn’t necessarily call herself an artist and where her inspiration comes from.
The Whitworth, Manchester
14 February – 31 May 2015
Interview by ANNA McNAY
Filmed by MARTIN KENNEDY