Thursday, 25 October 2007

Words that defy gravity

Cornelia Parker (born 1956) is an English sculptor and installation artist. Through a combination of visual and verbal allusions Cornelia Parkers work triggers cultural metaphors and personal associations, which allow the viewer to witness the transformation of the most ordinary objects into something compelling and extraordinary. Her installations demonstrate the theory that matter is never destroyed, but merely transformed into something else, and that something else is just as compelling. She is quoted as saying “I resurrect things that have been killed off…my work is all about the potential of materials – even when it looks like they’ve lost all potential”

In Parkers 1992 installation ‘Words That Defy Gravity’ the artist fashioned words out of lead to form a dictionary definition of gravity. Then one by one, she flung them from the White Cliffs of Dover (symbolically thought of as the outermost edge of England, where certainty ends and uncertainty begins)

There is a photo of Cornelia Parker in the process of creating this cartoon death. It is quite a dizzy photograph, of her standing inches from the edge, her arm high and her hand at point of release. A word hangs momentarily suspended in mid air before plummeting to meet the rocks below. The word will fall but the artist’s gaze runs counter to its fate. Instead of looking down towards the rocks, she looks out towards the sea as if dreaming of elsewhere. In this suspended moment that the photograph creates nothing is fixed and anything is possible. Time and the pull of gravity are suspended in the space of the artist’s imagination. To complete the work, Parker collected the lead words, mangled by the fall, and suspended them on threads just above gallery floor level. Parker says “the words got made illegible by real gravity,”

Writing in stone

Recently i visited Ilkely, where i came across the cow and calf rocks, a large rock formation consisting of an outcrop and boulder, also known as Hangingstone Rocks. The rocks are made of millstone grit, a variety of sandstone, and are named cow and calf because one is large, with the smaller one siting close to it, like a cow and calf.

The fascinating thing about these rocks are what you find when you walk and expore amongst them. Exploring around the area you can find names carved into the stone by previous visitors with the earliest being from the early 1800.

The rocks show what human endever can create. People have worked hard to leave their personal mark, creating a lingering moment carved in stone. The carvings change the normal surroundings of the rockface creating integue, interest and history. Left behind is a name, date and birth place, creating a connection between the writer and any viewer after.