The 5-minute Interview: Cornelia Parker, Artist

'I have to defend art; with music people don't worry about meaning'


Shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1997, Parker, 51, has works in the Tate Collection and all over the world. She will be in conversation with Ron Arad as part of a series of talks at the Jerwood Space, in London, on 16 June.

If I weren't talking to you right now I'd be...

Loading up the dishwasher. That's the problem with working and living in the same space – my studio is downstairs so I often get distracted by domestic things.

The most surprising thing that happened to me was...

Getting pregnant at 44. We now have a gorgeous six-year-old red head. Although at the time we felt very guilty because a lot of our friends were trying and we weren't.

A common misperception of me is...

That I'm a member of Mensa.

I wish that...

I'll be around long enough to see my daughter grow up and become an adult.

A phrase I use far too often is...

"Yes, why not?" One that gets me into trouble because it means that I don't turn things down and end up being far too busy. I always think that I can take on more than I can.

My ideal night out is...

Being invited to a good friend's house and meeting new people.

I am not a politician but...

If I was prime minister, I would declare a state of emergency on climate change. I don't think the Government does enough. Now is the time for everyone to do something about it, but it needs political leadership and politicians are too scared.

I'm good at...

Going the long way round. But as an artist you have to do that somehow. The best ideas come out of getting lost.

You know me as artist, but in another life I'd have been...

A musician. When people listen to music they don't worry about what it means like they do about art. Everyone's an expert on music, but with art I always find I have to defend its existence.

I'm very bad at...

Remembering names – even with people I know. Luckily my husband knows my blank expression when I'm introducing people and comes in to save me.

In moments of weakness I...

Have a glass of wine.

The best age to be is...

Young enough to enjoy life to the full. Age is only a hindrance if you make it so. Some enjoy life to the bitter end.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this:

To enjoy the moment you're in.

Miranda Bryant

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