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Cow Mutations by Tim Head (born 1946)

Lots of black stylised cow shapes on a white background

Acrylic and sandtex on canvas, painted in 1987
Presented by Sir John Moores in 1987 (No. 10612)

First prize (Purchase prize), John Moores 15, 1987

In a search for the right medium in which to present his ideas, Head's work has included photography, painting, video projection and installations. His paintings are based on found motifs, enlarged by photocopying then projected onto the canvas. Here, Head borrowed the imagery - much like earlier Pop artists - from an everyday source: Sainsbury's milk-cartons. By using a stylised image of cows, remote from how they actually look in real life, Head emphasises the gap between our materialist, 'packaged' society and the natural world on which it depends. John Moores 15 contained wide stylistic variety, from the abstraction of Victor Pasmore and Patrick Heron to the figurative work of Maggi Hambling and Maurice Cockrill. Head was staggered by wining and planned to use the money for more 'artistic experiments'.

'The prize was a wonderful very public encouragement and support for a new body of work, a group of paintings based on the reduction of the 'natural world' to a set of generic signs. After twenty-one years I am still coming across people who make reference to it.'

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