Shows beyond the city - Cornelia Parker

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A show I had much anticipation to visit was that of Cornelia Parker at Broadway Gallery in Letchworth Garden City. I live in a near-by village in Hertfordshire and I think the collaboration of a touring show between the South Bank Centre and that of Broadway Gallery is a really exciting one in making artwork by this renowned artist accessible for all. It’s important for shows like this to beyond London because it will draw people into the commuter towns that surround the city. Broadway Gallery is bright and spacious, and the collection is curated in a way that allows each piece and object to breathe, giving it the space needed to be appreciated by viewers.  

This latest showcase by Parker intertwines Printmaking and Photography together. One Day This Glass Will Break arose from Cornelia Parker’s investigations into the photogravure – a photomechanical process which produces images through the exposure of a photographic positive onto a copper printing plate. These works evoke the motif of the exploration of object and surface that the artist has been exploring throughout her career.  

These works are sculptural in form because of how the object has been captured. The prints Parker produces capture the shadows cast by glass or melting ice, arranged informally on a photogravure plate. Where the surface of a light bulb or vase comes into contact with the plate, it leaves a sharply defined black impression; where it curves away the impression grows lighter, creating a haunting still life. 

Within the gallery there is also a small film documenting how the work has been made. I always find listening to Cornelia Parker talk about her work very inspiring. She lives and breathes her process, and the way in which she talks about it is very poetic. One thing that stuck with me from the film was this idea of work ‘travelling’ and what this can evoke. She stated, ‘the work travels for me, when I cannot’. I found this evocative because of the reach of this exhibition and how intertwined her process is with subtle elements like documenting the mundane intricacies of the world through object.

Her exploration of photography and printmaking is process led which allows for accidents and new things to be introduced into the outcome of the work. I think this fluid way of working makes for a very honest approach to printmaking. She is looking at the midpoint of both of these processes and seeing how she can mirror and marry the two to create work.

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Alongside this exhibition is the work of local artist Liz Harrington, who is similar to Parker in her application to process and material. Focusing on transience and the fragility of the natural environment, Where Land Runs Out is part of a wider, ongoing project based on the Suffolk coast at Orford Ness and Shingle Street. This collection of work presents a series of cyanotypes that showcase the artists documentation of the land. She is stripping back the process and allowing line and form to emerge. I really enjoyed the curation and simplicity of her work. It was evocative and playful. Harrington’s work captures the transients of the world around us by choosing the document these moments.

Both of these shows are on display until the 1st of December 2019.

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Article by Megan Fatherly - be sure to follow her on instagram

Megan Fatharly