The Bowes Museum > Exhibitions > 2017 > Turkish Tulips > The Hoft Examiner > Michael Craig-Martin

Michael Craig-Martin

Black Tulip
2007, photopolymer print on Fabriano Tiepolo 290gsm, 42 x 30cm

Born in Cheshire in 1956, Parker studied at Gloucestershire College of Art and Design, Wolverhampton Polytechnic and at Reading University. She lives andworks in London.

Parker is best known for a number of large-scale installations including Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View (1991), and The Maybe (1995),a collaboration with actress Tilda Swinton, who appeared sleeping inside a vitrine at the Serpentine Gallery. In 2015 Magna Carta (An Embroidery),was exhibited at the British Library, London, The Whitworth, Manchesterand The Bodleian Library, Oxford.

In 2016 she was commissioned to make a site-specific work, Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) (2016), for the Roof Garden Commission at The Metropolitan Museum of New York. Her work reflects an enduring fascination with found objects which she physically and allegorically transforms.

As well as many solo shows, Parker’s works are held by numerous public and private collections in Europe and the USA, including the Tate, London; British Museum, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and MoMA, New York.

Over the centuries the search for a black tulip has become legendary; since the 16th-century Dutch growers had tried to cultivate one unsuccessfully. Thanks to a novel written by Alexander Dumas in 1850 called La Tulipe Noire its mythology has spread throughout the world, causing the black tulip to become a byword for that which is unattainable.

Parker’s contribution to the Portfolio was made by placing a glass tumbler containing a white tulip onto a photogravure plate then exposing it to a raked UV light. The underside of the glass is in direct contact with the plate therefore is captured in fine detail, while the tulip being further away, becomes a cast shadow. The art-making process becomes an act of transubstantiation,turning the humble white tulip into a valuable black one.