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Christine Borland

Preserves, 2006

Installation | Wooden shelves and 30 apple compote jars
 Dimensions variable


This work, completed in 2006 for Christine Borland’s solo exhibition at Galeria Toni Tàpies in Barcelona, consists of a number of white-lacquered wooden shelves among which are distributed thirty jars of apple jelly made, she says, from apples from Isaac Newton’s tree. Every time we hear the name of Newton, we think of the famous story according to which he formulated the Universal Law of Gravitation. In the popular version of the origin of the theory, Newton conceived it in the summer of 1666 after seeing an apple falling from a tree. The story is impossible to verify, but tradition has singled out a tree on the family farm like the one from which the apple fell. When the tree died in 1820, it was chopped up and the fragments were carefully conserved as relics. It seems, therefore, that the jelly made from Newton’s apples is metaphorical by nature, referring to what inspires scientific knowledge, the place from which ideas emerge, or where ideas mingle and connect. Among Christine Borland’s interests, the milieu of the laboratory and the situations in which scientific knowledge is fabricated have been recurring themes because, inter alia, there is something essentially human in creative activities, and it might be said that this is one of the ultimate questions she explores. Hence, evoking this celebrated epiphany of mechanical physics is perfectly compatible with her interests. Moreover, the work would seem to enshrine a secret homage to another eminent veteran British artist, Tony Cragg (Liverpool, 1949) who, like Borland, has exhibited in the Lisson Gallery. The connections with some of Cragg’s most famous works are too explicit for one not to reflect upon the intentionality of the references. Cragg’s recurrent allusions to the world of Science led him to try to give shape to some of its concepts such as Newton’s corpuscular theory of light for example, which he materialised with plastic objects picked up in the surrounds of Lisson Gallery and then ordered by colour in keeping with Newton’s experiments with prisms, thus bringing into being his famous, mythical work “New Stones, Newton’s Tones” (1978). In Borland’s collection of jars of apple jelly there is a further allusion to another well-known work by Cragg, “Larder” (1990), which consists of a pile of jam jars. There is little doubt that, with this work, Borland fairly explicitly salutes the master who, not for nothing, is deemed to be one of the leading exponents of the movement aiming to breathe new life into British sculpture. Influenced by Tony Cragg, Christine Borland’s work is notable for her accomplishment of an impeccable, highly-refined formal resolution, and every item is treated with a silversmith’s meticulousness, with allusions to precious stones and metals that contrast, as in the case of “Preserves”, with the aspects of matter that are more organic and prone to decay.

Amanda Cuesta


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