About Cornelia Parker OBE RA
Parker studied at Gloucestershire College of Art and Design (1974–75) and Wolverhampton Polytechnic (1975–78). She received her MFA from Reading University in 1982 and honorary doctorates from the University of Wolverhampton in 2000, the University of Birmingham (2005) and the University of Gloucestershire (2008). In 1997, Cornelia Parker was shortlisted for the Turner Prize along with Christine Borland, Angela Bulloch, and Gillian Wearing (who won the prize).
Parker is best known for large-scale installations such as Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View (1991), for which she had a garden shed blown up by the British Army and suspended the fragments as if suspending the explosion process in time. In the centre was a light which cast the shadows of the wood dramatically on the walls of the room.
In contrast, in 1997 at the Turner Prize exhibition, Parker exhibited Mass (Colder Darker Matter) (1997), arranging the charred remains of a church that had been struck by lightening in Texas into a visual form looking like a suspended cube. Eight years later, Parker made a companion piece Anti-Mass (2005), using charcoal from a black congregation church in Kentucky, which had been destroyed by arson. "With the garden shed, I was the person who killed off the object, whereas the church was killed off by fire and the piece is resurrected in the gallery—like a cartoon character."
Parker's compelling transformations of familiar, everyday objects investigate the nature of matter, test physical properties and play on private and public meaning and value. Using materials that have a history loaded with association, a feather from Sigmund Freud's pillow for example, Parker has employed numerous methods of exploration- suspending, exploding, crushing, stretching objects and even language through her titles.
The Maybe (1995) at the Serpentine Gallery, was a collaboration with actress Tilda Swinton, who lay, apparently asleep, inside a vitrine. She was surrounded by other glass cases containing relics that belonged to famous historical figures, such as Mrs Simpson's ice skates, Charles Dickens' quill pen and Queen Victoria's stocking.
She has made other interventions involving historical artworks. For example, she wrapped Rodin's The Kiss sculpture in Tate Britain with a mile of string (2003) as her contribution to the 2003 Tate Triennial Days Like These at Tate Britain . The intervention was titled The Distance (A Kiss With String Attached). Subconscious of a Monument (2005) is composed of fragments of dry soil, which are suspended on wires from the gallery ceiling. These lumps are the now-desiccated clay which was removed from beneath the Leaning Tower of Pisa in order to prevent its collapse.
Avoided Object is the title of an ongoing series of smaller works which have been developed in liaison with various institutions, including the Royal Armouries and Madame Tussauds. These “avoided” objects have often had their identities transformed by being burned, shot, squashed, stretched, drawn, exploded, cut, or simply dropped off cliffs. Cartoon deaths have long held a fascination for Parker: ‘Tom being run over by a steamroller or Jerry riddled with bullet holes. Sometimes the objects demise has been orchestrated, or it may have occurred accidentally or by natural causes. They might be “preempted” objects that have not yet achieved a fully formed identity, having been plucked prematurely from the production line like Embryo Firearms 1995. They may not even be classified as objects: things like cracks, creases, shadows, dust or dirt The Negative of Whispers 1997: Earplugs made with fluff gathered in the Whispering Gallery, St Paul's Cathedral). Or they might be those territories you want to avoid psychologically, such as the backs, underbellies or tarnished surfaces of things.’
Another example of this work is Pornographic Drawings (1997), which consists of drawings made from ink which has been manufactured by using solvent to dissolve (pornographic) video tape confiscated by H.M. Customs and Excise.
In 2008, a new exhibition by Parker opened at the Whitechapel Laboratory, Whitechapel Gallery in London. It featured a 40 minute film - Chomskian Abstract, 2007 - presenting her interview with the world-renowned writer and theorist Noam Chomsky. Exhibited alongside Chomskian Abstract, 2007, Parker’s Poison and Antidote Drawings, 2004 featured black ink containing snake venom and white ink containing anti venom.
For the Folkestone Triennial in 2011, Parker created a Folkestone version of one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, Copenhagen’s ‘Little Mermaid’. All women of Folkestone were offered the opportunity to model for the bronze sculpture. Through a process of open submission, Parker chose Georgina Baker, mother of two and Folkestone born and bred. Unlike the idealised Copenhagen version, this is a life-size, life-cast sculpture, celebrating the local and the everyday. Parker’s mermaid, a more confident and knowing lady of the sea than Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale one, is a permanent work for Folkestone.
In 2010 Parker was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts, London and appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours.
Spoon the Excavated Itself 
Photograph, 30 x 44.5 cms
Donated by the artist 1992
After taking part in an exhibition entitled Excavating the Present in Cambridge, Cornelia Parker visited a Cambridge archaeological excavation where she created and photographed an installation. She describes this work: "Spoon shaped excavation between two pits at Iron Age dig in the Fens. Silver spoon was engraved with 'buried 31-3-1992' and buried in one of the pits for future archaeologists to discover."