English Family China

WAG 1999.57a-y


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.