An elected member of the Royal Academy of Arts, artist Cornelia Parker specialises in installations and sculpture. Exploring a combination of visual and verbal allusions, her work triggers cultural metaphors and personal associations, allowing the viewer to witness the transformation of the most ordinary objects into something compelling and extraordinary.
Cornelia Parker’s imaginative journey through the world of art reached a Moment of Light in 1997 when she was nominated for the Turner Prize. Her success has continually inspired young artists entering the field with her works ‘Cold Dark Matter: An Exploding View’ and ‘The Maybe’ – a collaboration with Tilda Swinton – attracting her most notable praise.
Photographer Mary McCartney held Cornelia Parker’s photoshoot in two locations – the first in the rolling hills of the artist’s beloved Hampstead Heath and the second within the Life Drawing Room at the Royal Academy.
“"Find something that
you are genuinely
and put all your
energy into it"”
What made you pursue a career in art and how did you achieve your success?
I decided I wanted to become an artist when I was 15. I went on a week long school trip to London to visit museums and galleries with my inspiring art teachers. As a country girl from Cheshire, starved of culture, they opened up a whole new world to me. My success was incremental – as my confidence grew, so did my creativity.
What is or was your Moment in Light –a special moment in your career or life?
When I was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1997, it happened in the same month that I first met my husband in Texas. Also the birth of our daughter in 2001, when I was 45.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am curating a Black and White room at this years’ Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. I am also working on a major exhibition of my work in October, which will re-launch the newly refurbished Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. My hope is that my best work is still yet to come!
Who inspires you?
I love artists like Yoko Ono, Marina Abramovic and Louise Bourgeois, they have lived their lives on their own terms.
How do you feel to have been invited to be one of De Beers Moments in Light celebrated women?
Thrilled, to be honoured for what I have achieved so far and to be able to help a women’s charity at the same time. (And to get to wear diamonds!)
Did you enjoy meeting and shooting with Mary McCartney?
I loved it, a fantasy makeover. Lights, make-up, clothes, diamonds, beautiful locations. Mary transformed me into a glamorous version of myself.
How do you feel about working with the Women for Women Foundation?
So often, you don’t feel you can make a difference to the lives of others, so I am very happy to be part of this project. To think that women who live in difficult situations can have the trajectory of their lives improved, and to be able to play a part in that, is wonderful.
How would you advise other women to achieve their dreams?
Find something that you are genuinely passionate about and put all your energy into it. Don’t worry about success, work on living every day to the full.