Menzies Art Brands



In the build up to Cornelia Parkers recent 2022 retrospective at Tate Britain, the gallery praised her as one of Britains best loved and most acclaimed contemporary artists.1 Her list of accomplishments is impressive and includes a commission piece for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (2016) and, more recently, a retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney (2019).

Primarily a sculptural and installation-based artist, Parker is driven by an urge to use familiar and everyday Ideas and objects to challenge our understanding of the world. Her practice involves taking these items and reconfiguring them in such a way as to shift and alter their original meanings. This is evident in her best-known large-scale installations, such as Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View 1991 and Thirty Pieces of Silver 1988-89. It is also at the fore of our present work, Right, Wrong 2019.

Right, Wrong is an interesting piece, both visually and conceptually. Constructed in hand embroidery on linen, the work was made in collaboration with Fine Cell Work, a rehabilitative charity that teaches needlework to prison inmates in the UK.

In the present work, we see the definition of right superimposed on wrong or is it vice versa? Parker is outspoken about her tendency to employ juxtaposition to trigger new associations.2 The blurring together of the terms forces us to consider their exact meaning and any common ground they might share:

I like the backs of [words] in particular. The unconscious side of things I take two definitions of the dictionary and have them embroidered in reverse writing. Face to face in fabric. So the fabric gets the front of both meanings. But you get the back of one meaning and the front of another. But its in reverse so the two meanings are spliced together.3

Collaboration is an important part of Parkers process. Throughout her career, she has worked with the army, police, judges and barons, among others to produce works. This was notable in her work Magna Carta (An Embroidery) 2015. For Right, Wrong, in particular, the hand of prisoners in producing the work makes a stark commentary on the movement between incarceration and rehabilitation; on whether there is any room for movement between right and wrong .

Other works created in the style of Right, Wrong include Us, Them 2019 as well as War, Peace 2015 and Love, Hate 2015. Parkers 2021 neon sculptural series Ghost Notes continues to explore the powerful meanings behind words and their antonyms, such as Yes/No, Positive/Negative and Conscious/Unconscious.4

1. Cornelia Parker, Tate, United Kingdom, 2022 [accessed February 2023]:

2. Cornelia Parker, in an interview with Anna McNay, The Whitworth, Manchester, 11 Feb 2015 [accessed February 2023]:
3. Ibid.
4. Cornelia Parker: A Viewing Room, Frith Street Gallery, London, 2022 [accessed February 2023]: 


Alice Evatt
Alice Evatt is a PhD Candidate at the University of Oxford and Balliol College. Alice has experience in the art market, having interned at Sothebys London and worked with the Hogarth Galleries in Sydney. 

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