Entertainment & Arts

Graphene art to reopen Manchester's Whitworth gallery

An artist's impression of how the gallery will look with its new extension and "art garden" Image copyright Whitworth Gallery, MUMA & Hayes Davidson
Image caption Parker's artwork will reopen the Whitworth Gallery, which will have gained a new extension and "art garden"

Artist Cornelia Parker has teamed up with a Nobel Prize-winning scientist to turn fragments of drawings by Picasso, Constable and Turner into a new artwork for Manchester's Whitworth gallery.

Konstantin Novoselov, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010, took tiny samples of pencil graphite from the drawings and turned them into graphene.

Parker will use the graphene in the venue's reopening events in October.

The Whitworth is being extended in a £15m redevelopment.

Novoselov won the Nobel Prize with Andre Geim for their groundbreaking work on graphene, the thinnest, strongest known material, at the University of Manchester.

He worked with a conservator from the gallery to take "microscopic" samples from drawings from the Whitworth collection. They also used a drawing by William Blake and a letter written by nuclear physics pioneer Sir Ernest Rutherford.

The resulting graphene will be used to build an electronic sensor that is triggered by humidity.

Image copyright Hugo Glendinning
Image caption Cornelia Parker's Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View will be in the exhibition

On the Whitworth's reopening night on 25 October, Novoselov will breathe into the sensor, triggering a firework display designed by Parker to look like a meteor shower, inspired by William Blake's painting The Ancient of Days.

The redeveloped gallery will also host Parker's largest solo exhibition to date.

It will include her 1991 installation Cold Dark Matter; An Exploded View, which was ranked in the top 10 in a survey to find the most popular British artworks last year.

The 19th Century Whitworth gallery has been closed for redevelopment since last summer. By October, it will have a new extension and a sculpture garden that will double its public space.

Other artists whose work will feature in the relaunch exhibitions from 25 October will include Chinese-born Cai Guo-Qiang, Turner Prize winner Laure Prouvost, photographer Johnnie Shand Kydd and German artist Thomas Schutte.

Whitworth director Maria Balshaw said: "The opening programme, led by Cornelia Parker's remarkable exhibition, captures the spirit of the Whitworth - a place where marvellous, eclectic art works connect to people and our place in Manchester."

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