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Contemporary art

Western art

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Winter garden



Christine Borland


1965 -


'Winter garden' was made in Australia for the 2001 Melbourne Festival exhibition 'Humid'. It incorporates many of the ideas that have come to be associated with Borland's work, such as medical and scientific research, museological display, and themes of body and spirit, life and death. This work has been a direct response to local research, for example the specimens pickled in the alcohol are a local plant that was apparently used medicinally by aboriginal people, specifically for birth control. The vessels themselves are based on the form of the human womb but also have the pragmatic appearance of scientific vessels or specimen jars with their foil-covered caps. There is also a faint echo of the medieval reliquary in these objects - traces of lost bodies awaiting reunion in the afterlife. The fragments of human anatomy are slumped on the floor as if they have fallen like fruits separated from the tree. In fulfilment of their purpose their contents are bleached plants that also speak of the cycle of life and death and what is more these specific plants have been used to intervene in the process of birth. Then again they are like tear drops shed over the parting of souls.




Media category


Materials used

12 hand blown glass vessels containing bleached specimens of Pennyroyal preserved in alcohol solution


12 glass vessels: dimensions variable :

Each part, 17.7 x 12.7 x 10.1 cm, each approx.

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Mervyn Horton Bequest Fund 2002


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Christine Borland

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

  • Humid, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, South Bank, 11 Oct 2001–25 Nov 2001

Referenced in 2 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 2002, 'Year in review', pg. 8-25, Sydney, 2002, 12.

Anthony Bond, Contemporary: Art Gallery of New South Wales Contemporary Collection, 'Imagining the body', pg.246-289, Sydney, 2006, 248, 256, 257 (colour illus.).