Cornelia Parker on her Government Art Collection exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery

Uploaded by dcms on 23.09.2011

>> CORNELIA PARKER: These paintings are all works I like from the collection, so I was
trying to find a structure to order my selection and I've organised the exhibition in a colour
spectrum, so it's from all the colours of the rainbow plus black and white. So you walk
around the room and the colour shifts with the works. And I've called it Richard of York
Gave Battle in Vain because that's the way I was taught as a child to remember the colours
of the rainbow. And you know Richard of York's son is Richard III who I have a painting of
in the show - and he died in the Battle of Bosworth, so he was (laughs) - and that's
hanging above Grayson Perry's Print for a Politician which looks like a big battle scene
so there's lots of little funny cross-references and sort of, you know, playful juxtapositions
going on. All this work, what I did like about the work is it's all been in these very auspicious
places, you know, and had an ambassadorial role, you know, like a diplomatic role, but
it's been listening in to all these political conversations for the last how many years.
Some of it, you know, some of these works date back to the 1500s. I mean, they haven't
been in the collection that long but somehow they must have heard a lot of stuff. so now
they're back in a sort of "art" situation and they're almost chattering amongst themselves!
Merging from orange to yellow is Brews by Ed Ruscha, which is a rare non-British artist
print which is done in, it looks like the froth off a beer glass, which I've juxtaposed
with a piece called Broken English by Anya Gallaccio, I think she's from the late-90s,
about '97, which has Photo Me booth images of a lot of the art world at the time all
dissolving in solvent. And up there is the Fab Four, The Beatles, done in diamond dust
by Peter Blake, which is quite nice with the four girls, Gillian Wearing girls - I've found
mates for them! So here we are in the green corner, going into the blue behind me. I love
this piece. This is another part of a series of book covers by Kitaj. I think it's 60s
or 70s that series. And this one says "China of today, the yellow peril" which shows the
attitudes of the time but also it's a green image with, referring to yellow. Below is
Adam Dant's Come on England, a rather pathetic plea, next to another book cover by Kitaj,
Defence of Terrorism by Trotsky which is going from green into blue. We're in the blue corner
over here and so is the selection of works here. This is wonderful, it's one of my favourite
works in the whole show which is called Blue Tangle by Kenneth Martin and it's got great
history, it's been all over the world and in the show there's a potted history, a display
history, of this particular work. Andy Warhol's The Queen. The Heroin Room by Mike Nelson
I quite liked, a little more of a sinister undertone going on here. Although it's predominantly
the colour spectrum in this show, there is black and white because I did think there
was a sort of a pragmatic element with the black and white so it allowed me to show a
bit of the darker side of things. So we have a half-built mausoleum up there by Rachel
Whiteread, Mary Queen of Scots who lost her head staring across the room at Elizabeth
I who beheaded her. There's a Feather from Freud’s Pillow, which is photogram, which
is one of my works, next door to an early Martin Parr. When you think of Martin Parr
you usually think of colour photography but he is an early black and white of a man on
a ladder in a doorway. There's almost like a sense of the end of the world going on in
this corner. (laughs)