Mother and Child (Divided), Exhibition Copy 2007 (original 1993), 2007



Mother and Child (Divided), Exhibition Copy 2007 (original 1993)
Two parts, each (calf): 1136 x 1689 x 622 mm | 44.7 x 66.5 x 24.5 in | Two parts, each (cow): 2086 x 3225 x 1092 mm | 82.1 x 127 x 43 in
Glass, painted stainless steel, silicone, acrylic, monofilament, stainless steel, cow, calf and formaldehyde solution
Image: Photograph © Tate, London 2012 © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2012


Group Exhibition - 2014
The Henry Moore Foundation, Perry Green, Much Hadham, United Kingdom
Solo Exhibition - 2013
ALRIWAQ, Qatar Museums Authority, Doha, Qatar
Solo Exhibition - 2012
Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom
Group Exhibition - 2007
Tate Britain, London , United Kingdom


“Cut us all in half, we’re all the fucking same.”[1]

‘Mother and Child (Divided)’, a cow and calf bisected and preserved in four tanks of formaldehyde, first exhibited as part of the ‘Aperto 93’ Venice Biennale exhibition. It is a key early ‘Natural History’ work and subsequently formed the focal piece in the 1995 Turner Prize competition, won by Hirst. 

The cows are removed from nature, both through their unorthodox presence within a gallery setting, and by death. The artist explains, “In a way, you understand more about living people by dealing with dead people. It’s sad but you feel more ... my cows cut up in formaldehyde have more personality than any cows walking about in fields.”[2]

The cows, tragic in that they’re amongst “the most slaughtered animals ever”, are used to demonstrate, “an emotional thing which you are dealing with in a very brutal, unemotional way.”[3] The title of the work is simultaneously an acknowledgement of the bisection, and an expression of the violence inherent, “in any sort of relationship, like trying to keep a relationship together when it is falling apart.”[4]

[1] Damien Hirst cited in Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn, ‘On The Way to Work’, (Faber and Faber, 2001) 228.

[2] Damien Hirst cited in ‘An Interview with Damien Hirst’, Stuart Morgan, ‘No Sense of Absolute Corruption’ (Gagosian Gallery, 1996),18-19.

[3] Damien Hirst, ‘I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now’ (Booth-Clibborn Editions; Reduced edition, 2005), 299; Damien Hirst cited in ‘Like People, Like Flies: Damien Hirst Interviewed’, Mirta D’Argenzio, ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy: Selected Works from 1989–2004’ (Electa Napoli, 2004),145.

[4] Damien Hirst, ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’ 145.