Image: Cornelia Parker, Meteorite Lands On Wormwood Scrubs, 1998, Courtesy the Artist and Frith Street Gallery, London © The Artist
Cornelia Parker was born in Cheshire, England in 1956. She studied at Wolverhampton Polytechnic and Reading University. In 1997 she was shortlisted for the Turner Prize and in 2010 she was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list.
Parker is a sculptor and installation artist. Her work involves the manipulation, destruction and rereading of ‘everyday’ objects; turning the ordinary into extraordinary. For one of her early and most famous works, Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View (1991), Parker asked the British Army to blow up a standard garden shed. She then collected and suspended the shattered wooden fragments in an abstract composition around a light bulb, creating a tense installation, which captures some of the energy and force of the original explosion.
The obliteration of objects extends through Parker’s work for which she has employed diverse techniques including steam rolling, crushing and burning. She began the ongoing series ‘Meteorite Landings’ in 1998, using actual meteorites. Parker heats up a Gibeon Meteorite, dating back to 1836, and then carefully places it on top of different geographical locations in an atlas – in this case, famous London landmarks from the ‘London A–Z’, such as Buckingham Palace or the Millennium Dome. The heat of the meteorite creates a charred hole in the map obliterating the original landmarks, literally erasing them from view. The holes echo the craters left on the earth’s surface by giant meteors that have fallen from space. In this way, the works can be seen as an apocalyptic reminder of the power of nature and how we are helpless to protect ourselves against it.