Cornelia Parker Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View, 1991, Photo: Hugo Glendinning

Whitworth unveils opening programme

Simon Stephens, 11.03.2014
Manchester gallery will open in October with solo show from Cornelia Parker
A collaboration with a Nobel Prize winner, a video filmed in Bethlehem and an exploded shed will be among the Cornelia Parker works that will feature in the main opening exhibition of Manchester's Whitworth Art Gallery in October.

Mcinnes Usher McKnight Architects has overseen the £15m redevelopment of the Whitworth, which will double the public space of the 125-year-old gallery as well as creating new facilities such as a learning zone and a collections access area. The opening date is 25 October.

“Cornelia Park is an extraordinary artist and I could not be more pleased that we are able to show her work,” said Maria Balshaw, the director of the Whitworth Art Gallery and the Manchester City Galleries. “She takes the everyday and the domestic and transmutes them into extraordinary, eccentric objects, as with her famous shed that was exploded with the assistance of the British army.”

Parker has been working with scientists at the University of Manchester, particularly Kostya Novoselov who, with Andre Geim, was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work on graphene, the thinnest and strongest known material. Novoselov is taking microscopic samples of graphite from drawings in the Whitworth’s collection by William Blake, JMW Turner, John Constable and Pablo Picasso and making graphene from them.

Parker will use these in a work of art that will have its first showing on the Whitworth’s opening night.

She will also show Made in Bethlehem, a 2012 video filmed in Bethlehem at a crown of thorns workshop run by a Bedouin family, and Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View, a 1991 work where she suspended the fragments of a garden shed that had been blown up for her by the British Army.

Also opening the Whitworth will be an installation by Chinese-born artist Cai Guo-Qiang. The 45-metre long, four-metre high gunpowder drawing, Unmanned Nature, will be exhibited in the new Landscape Gallery. This will be the first showing of the installation outside of the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

There will be eight other opening exhibitions at the Whitworth. These will include a show celebrating the recent gift by the Karpidas Foundation of 90 contemporary works of art to the gallery, including pieces by Laure Prouvost, Dorothy Cross, Nathan Coley, Hayley Tompkins, Gillian Wearing, Keith Coventry, Gary Hume, Richard Patterson and Paul Noble.

The gallery's sculpture court will reopen with Sarah Lucas's Tits in Space, in which multiple pairs of cigarette-encrusted orbs float against a pitch-black background. Items from the Whitworth's wallpaper will form the backdrop to a selection of sculptures.