14 February – 31 May 2015
Free to all
A show celebrating Parker's innovative career is one of the highlight's of the Whitworth's grand reopening.
Cornelia Parker has worked on an array of unusual projects since coming to prominence in the 1990s – from creating earplugs out of fluff gathered in the Whispering Gallery of St Paul's Cathedral to orchestrating a performance of Tilda Swinton asleep in a vitrine.
This project sees Parker team up with Nobel Prize-winning professor Kostya Novoselov and other scientists from University of Manchester. Working together, they have extracted microscopic samples of graphite from drawings by William Blake, Turner, Constable and Picasso and a letter written by the physicist who split the atom. These have been used to create graphene - the thinnest and strongest known material - from which the artist has developed a new series of work.
The Blake graphene has a particularly special role. On the opening night, when activated by the breath of a physicist, the sample will trigger a meteor shower firework in Whitworth Park. Parker was inspired by the artist's watercolour The Ancient of Days, which is part of the gallery's collection.
The exhibition also features several key pieces drawn from across Parker's career – including her large-scale installations and ongoing series of bullet, explosion and poison and antidote drawings. The latter are created using black ink containing snake venom and white ink containing anti venom.
Parker's signature piece Cold Dark Matter (An Exploded View) is an undoubted highlight. To create this piece the artist had a garden shed blown up by the British Army and suspended the fragments to look as if the explosion have been frozen in process. It sparked a series of further sculptures based on a similar theme, including her Turner Prize-nominated Mass (Colder Darker Matter), where the charred remains of a Texan church that had been struck by lightning were suspended into a cube.