I left England when I was 7. I had to leave my calf behind. Since that time cows have always been part of my life. I have rescued them and cared for them and come to know them deeply, personally. I have also come to know how in the last 50 years, commercial agriculture has turned cows into manufactured things. I look at slaughter house photos, and I feel an unstoppable rage. The cows in their terrible suffering are abandoned in a monumental blindness, a total disregard for them, a complete indifference.
Last July I came upon a reproduction of Albrecht Durer's "Head of a Stag." The little drawing showed a stag with an arrow through his head. The image haunted me, and I realized that Durer's subject was compassion. His compassion beat down my rage. I began to draw the cows, the cows I knew and the cows I thought about. Gillian Jagger
Of her last New York show titled Absence of Faith, named after her horse which impaled herself in a freak winter accident, Holland Cotter of the New York Times said "The installation has the theatrical punch of the reenacted disaster, but also the elegiac gravity of a tribute of a loved one, infused with the complicated feeling usually reserved for human subjects. Ms. Jagger's subjects are fate and survival of a kind almost no one is able or willing to risk doing these days.
Recently her work was seen at the Elvehjem Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2003. A catalog The Art of Gillian Jagger includes an essay by Michael Brenson which closes with his observation, made well before the works in the current exhibition: "For Jagger, vulnerability and death are conditions of the real, and the ethical is the condition of the visionary."