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Cornelia Parker: An Artist Who Turns Everyday Objects Into Bewitching Designs



By: Jonathan Shan


Cornelia Parker discovered early in her life that she could use a train to make art. This discovery inspired her fascination with making art through destruction and reconstruction. As an accomplished adult contemporary artist, her detailed works of art are created by smashing and blowing things up.


When she was a little girl, she was one of three daughters of a physically abusive father and also lived by the train tracks. She would put coins on a train track in her free time and watch as it was forged into something new. When she wasn’t imaginative with ordinary objects, she was forced to do chores like cleaning stalls and milking cows. She kept making craftwork even through her tough and battered childhood.


In her earlier pieces, she made the Thirty Pieces of Silver using a steamroller and over 1000 silver objects. Many of which were spoons, teapots, and tableware. She scavenged her materials from car boot sales, markets, and the second-hand stall that she helped run at Portobello market in London. For


Her later artworks consist of A Kiss with String Attached, Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View, Thirty Pieces of Silver, and more than 140 others. Cold Dark Matter is the most famous of her entire collection. It is an exploding garden shed frozen in time with a single lightbulb at the center, making shadows and illuminating the room like an explosion.


Although many think that her artwork is messy, it requires a lot of thought to piece everything together. For Cold Dark Matter, she put fragments of paint pots, brushes, gardening tools, and toys. In doing so, a single light source would make silhouettes covering the walls of the gallery. Many people, not just artists, are captured by this freezing moment of a suspended explosion as shadows of the fragments oscillate on the gallery walls.


Parker loves the interaction of light and dark and incorporates it into many of her artworks. "I like the imaginativeness of shadows. You become a shadow. The light amplifies all the instruments, they become more cacophonous through that, so it's almost like you're getting visual amplification rather than audial. It's like magnifying everything," she said.


Her unique ideas for art are hypnotizing to observe. It is even more enthralling when you look closely at the detail and imagine the thinking process of making everything interact in a mesmerizing design.

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