This piece is quite familiar: Perpetual Cannon. I’ve seen it before, at the V&A and also at the Baltic Centre in Newcastle. It was made for a circular installation but looks amazing in every space it is displayed. There’s something both comforting and strange about seeing brass instruments which have had the last breath squeezed out of them beneath the weight of a steam roller. And then you think, yes, that’s a perfect conclusion for these pieces which were designed to absorb human breath and make music. Once no longer functioning, this is the perfect way to recycle and retire old trumpets, tubas and horns.
This is a close up of Thirty Pieces of Silver. It fills the space in the most beguiling and attractive way. The flattened pieces of silver plate objects seem to float above the floor in perfect circles. The squashed form seems to enhance the memory of the 3D life these pieces once led and they all have stories to tell.
Cold Dark Matter : An Exploded View is great. Who wouldn’t want to blow up a garden shed? Parker worked with the Army School of Ammunition who obligingly obliterated an old shed and contents she transported to their training site. Then, when all the pieces were picked up after the explosion, she arranged them in this fabulous configuration, like a moment frozen in time, when everything was spinning away from its place and into space. You get a tension of what was once there, what was meant to be and what can be replaced by destructive actions.
I enjoyed her piece entitled Island. She painted the panes of a greenhouse with white brushstrokes of cliff chalk and lined the floor of the greenhouse with worn encaustic tiles from the Houses of Parliament. The light inside flickers, grows, glows and fades as if the piece is breathing.
Throughout this excellent exhibition are examples of Cornelia Parker’s enquiring mind spotting objects which may be beyond use, may be altered by accident or human hand and capturing the moment when they become art. I loved the photos of the wall outside a prison near her home when the cracks had just been painted. Apparently later that day a prisoner convicted of murder scaled the walls and escaped. The images look like monochrome expressionist art.
The show is on until 16th October 2022.