Cornelia Parker: Landscape With Gun And Tree 2010
Landscape with Gun and Tree is a nine-metre-tall shotgun that leans against a tree. The gun is made of cast iron and corten steel, and so – like any metal left out in the rain overnight – it continues to rust over time.
Landscape with Gun and Tree is a sculptural representation of Robert Wilson’s hunting shotgun, scaled up to rival the height of the surrounding trees. Parker took inspiration from Thomas Gainsborough’s painting Mr and Mrs Andrews (c. 1750) which shows a newly married couple posed with their country estate stretching into the distance behind them. Mrs Andrews sits on a garden bench, her hands (unfinished) on her lap. Mr Andrews stands behind her, his gun over his arm, their dog at their feet. Parker had toyed with the idea of calling her sculpture ‘Mr and Mrs Wilson’, but on seeing the finished installation, renamed it Landscape with Gun and Tree – a suitable nod to other Gainsborough titles.
The sculpture is designed in such a way that if the tree that it leans on was to fall, it would remain standing upright, its weight supported by engineering under the ground. A perverse monument to firearms and man’s battle with nature, Parker’s work intimates power, ownership and violence, albeit in a humorous manner.
“After the poetry of Nocturne (A Moon Landing), I wanted to make something that was much more confrontational, perhaps even inspiring fear… I quite like the idea of a poacher trespassing on the land being alarmed by the scale of the abandoned firearm and conjuring a mental picture of the absent gamekeeper.” Cornelia Parker
Cornelia Parker was born in Cheshire, England in 1956. For some years her work has been concerned with formalising things beyond our control, containing the volatile and making it into something that is quiet and contemplative like the ‘eye of the storm’.
She is fascinated with processes in the world that mimic cartoon ‘deaths’ – steamrollering, shooting full of holes, falling from cliffs and explosions. Through a combination of visual and verbal allusions her 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.
Lately Parker’s attention has turned to issues of globalisation, consumerism and the mass-media.
A solo exhibition of Cornelia Parker’s work was staged at Frith Street Gallery in 2008 at the same time her video piece Chomskian Abstract was screened at London’s Whitechapel Art Gallery Laboratory. Her work was included in the inaugural exhibition of Tokyo’s new National Art Centre in late 2007. Parker had a major solo exhibition at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery in 2007 and The Wurttembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart in 2005. She was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1997.
Other notable solo exhibitions include Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin; ICA, Philadelphia; Aspen Museum of Art, Colorado; Chicago Arts Club and the ICA, Boston. Parker’s work is represented in many international collections including The Arts Council of England, Tate Gallery, London and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.