Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery Touring presents One Day This Glass Will Break, an exhibition of twenty large-scale photogravures by Cornelia Parker from three experimental series: Fox Talbot’s Articles of Glass (2017); One Day This Glass Will Break (2015) and Thirty Pieces of Silver (exposed) (2015). These three series, which are brought together for the first time in this exhibition, explore the artist’s fascination with the physical properties of objects, materials and their histories.
The exhibition includes eight works from the series One Day This Glass Will Break (2015) which arose from Parker’s investigations into the photogravure, a photomechanical process which produces an image through the exposure of a photographic positive onto a copper printing plate. Inspired by the 19th century photographic pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot, Parker combined two of his early techniques, solar prints and the photogravure, creating a new hybrid form of print by exposing three-dimensional objects to ultraviolet light. In these works, she uses found objects such as a tower of crystal glasses, a shattered light bulb and melting ice cubes, with the resulting prints capturing their shadows in a spectral still life.
In Fox Talbot’s Articles of Glass (2017) series of nine prints, Cornelia Parker explores this technique further using the last remaining items of glassware belonging to Fox Talbot, which he famously used in his early photograph, Articles of Glass (c. 1844), and are now housed in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. The artist arranged these historical objects in various informal compositions on the printing plate, with some with their museum labels still attached. The lead content of this early glassware produces darker shadows, resulting in prints that are richer and deeper in tone.
Two prints from another series, Thirty Pieces of Silver (exposed) (2015), are also included. Here, the artist uses found glass photographic negatives of antique silverware, originally produced for a 1960s Spink auction catalogue. Exposed to the photogravure plate in their original glassine bags, the negatives appear as physical, dimensional objects themselves. This series evokes a major early work by Cornelia Parker, Thirty Pieces of Silver, (1988-89), which consisted of over a thousand pieces of silver flattened by a steamroller and suspended on wires hovering above the gallery floor.
About the Artist
Cornelia Parker was born in Cheshire in 1956. She studied at the Gloucestershire College of Art & Design and at Wolverhampton Polytechnic before receiving her MA (Fine Arts) from the University of Reading in 1982. Her first major solo exhibition, Thirty Pieces of Silver, took place at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham in 1988. In 1997 she was shortlisted for the Turner Prize and in 2009 she was elected to the Royal Academy of Arts and became an OBE. Cornelia Parker’s work is held in numerous collections worldwide including Tate, MoMA, the British Council and the Yale Center for British Art.
Image: Cornelia Parker, An Enigma, from One Day This Glass Will Break, 2015. A series of polymer photogravure etchings on Fabriano Tiepolo Bianco 290 gsm paper. Courtesy and © the artist and Alan Cristea Gallery, 2019. Photo: FXP Photography, London, 2015.