English Family China

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English Family China

Title: English Family China
Date: 1998
Artist: Christine Borland
Date of birth:
Nationality: British: Scottish
Date of death:
Materials: Paint; Ceramic; Wood; Glass
Information: Image © Christine Borland

Through meticulous research, Borland - who was short-listed for the Turner Prize in 1997 - explores life, death and how social systems and institutions exploit and devalue life.

In 'English Family China' a number of real human skulls, imported from South America via the USA - one foetal, one adult male, one adult female and one six year old child - are her starting point. Versions of these were cast in bone china, the material developed in Britain for fine tableware as an alternative to Oriental porcelain. 18th century Liverpool was a major centre for porcelain production. The skulls' blue-on-white marine motifs are typical of the Liverpool factories.

Borland's skulls, displayed in 'nuclear family' groups, invite us to examine history, mortality and morality, and Liverpool's role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Accession no: WAG 1999.57a-y
Credit line: Purchased by the Walker Art Gallery with the aid of Art Transpennine (1999); commissioned for artranspennine98 supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of England in 1999.
Location: Item not currently on display