It was in the summer of the shed that I went to The Whitworth Art Gallery to see Cornelia Parker’s ‘Exploding Shed.’

Pardon the pun, but it blew my mind.

It’s a real shed, which the artist had placed in a field and filled with the kind of things you’d find in a shed – old toys, books, tools, etc. She says:


‘the shed became this little self-contained unit which was almost like where you put all your baggage, all the stuff you don’t really want to throw away.’*


She got the army to come and blow it up and then she gathered up all the bits of the shed and its contents and suspended them from wires on the gallery ceiling. They’re arranged to look as though the shed is mid-explosion, frozen in time:


‘the shed looked like it was re-exploding … or perhaps coming back together again.’


The whole thing is lit by a single light bulb and casts shadows around the walls.


‘The shadows are as important as the things.’


The exploding shed isn’t really called the ‘Exploding Shed.’ That’s just what I call it. It’s called ‘Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View.’


‘Cold dark matter… is stuff in the universe that you can’t measure … this material that a lot of the universe is made up of, that we can’t … map.’



*All Cornelia Parker quotes are from here.