Many of the ideas and methods used by Cross evoke parallels with Surrealist art. Cross herself has linked Virgin Shroud to a work by the Surrealist artist Meret Oppenheim, Object (For Breakfast), 1936, a piece which consists of a teacup, saucer and spoon, given a mysterious animal presence by a fur covering. Cross's work is also informed by issues relating to gender and cultural identity. In this work - one of four to date that make use of a full hide - the cow's skin evokes a traditional division of labour (men skin cows, women milk them). It also suggests a parallel between the function of cows and the role of feeding and nurturing traditionally ascribed to women. The cowskin, which hangs like a veil over the figure, can be seen as preventing the figure from speaking or communicating, making it seem akin to a 'dumb animal'. At the same time, the presence of the teats around the head suggests a crown. The title confirms that the figure can be associated with the Virgin Mary, whom the artist has described as frequently represented within Catholic Irish culture as 'the perfect woman'. Originally, Cross wanted to drape the skin over a real statue of the Virgin Mary. However, she was unable to find one of the right size, and instead created an armature using a steel dress rack, wooden templates and a plaster 'head'. The satin train, spread out in front of the figure, was made from the train of the wedding dress of the artist's grandmother, given to Cross when she was a teenager.
Tessa Jackson, 'Earlier Work', in Even: Recent Work by Dorothy Cross, exhibition catalogue, Arnolfini, Bristol, Feb.-Apr. 1996, pp.8-9, reproduced in colour p.7