Christine Borland

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Christine Borland

Born1965 (age 56–57)
EducationUniversity of Ulster and Glasgow School of Art
MovementYoung British Artists

Christine Borland FRSE (born 1965) is a Scottish artist. Born in Darvel, Ayrshire, Scotland, Borland is one of the Young British Artists (YBAs) and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1997 (won by Gillian Wearing) for her work From Life[1] at Tramway, Glasgow. Borland works and lives in Kilcreggan, Argyll, as a BALTIC Professor at the BxNU Institute of Contemporary Art.

Borland studied Environmental Art at the Glasgow School of Art and later was awarded an MA from the University of Ulster in 1988.[2] She was on the committee of Transmission Gallery, Glasgow from 1989 to 1991. In 2004, she became one of five artist awarded the prestigious Glenfiddich Artist in Residence programme. In 2012 she was appointed BALTIC Northumbria University Professor – where she heads the Institute of Contemporary Art in Newcastle upon Tyne. This is a collaborative venture between Northumbria University and the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

Borland is leading member of artists who contributed to the transformation of Glasgow in 1990s as an internationally recognised hub of contemporary arts.[3] Across an international career of 25 years, Borland is recognised for cross-disciplinary projects with other fields, such as medical science and forensics, to explore ideas related to history of medicine, medical ethics and human genetics.[4] She has said, "The heart of what I am trying to discuss is very dark, very strong and passionate, and if you can reach that through quite a rational process, I think it becomes more powerful, and importantly, more powerful to the viewer."[5]

Borland was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2020.[6]


Christine Borland's works sculpture, printmaking and photography and with a variety of materials including glass, china, fabric and bronze. She often asks us to consider the fragility of human life and the way in which it is valued by social systems and institutions.[7] Borland's practice highlights the depersonalisation of an individual's identity in Modern medical practices, and her work attempts to regain physicality and identity.[8] Borland questions how we identify scientific fact, objectivity and truth together with traditional, conventional forms of art material, such as bronze or ceramics, together with new technologies.[9]

Borland's work, From Life, was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1997 She started with the skeleton of a missing person that she purchased legally from a medical supplies company and received it in the post, and then worked with medicine, forensics, judicial and police institutions to obtain information about the person. The end product was an exhibition of the skeleton, a bronze cast of the head using facial reconstruction.[10] It was an attempt to reclaim the individual identity of the skeleton, and to turn an objective object into an understood, specific human.

In November 1996, at the Sean Kelly Gallery, she presented the work "Second Class Male, Second Class Female" (a second-class man, a second-class woman), in which she reconstructed the heads of two people.

LHomme Double was first exhibited in 1997. Borland asked 6 different academically-trained artists to make a clay portraitbust of the notorious Nazi War criminal, Josef Mengele, otherwise known as the Angel of Death. Borland obtained two grainy black-and-white portrait photographs and a short description of Mengele's physical appearance from Auschwitz survivors.[11] This same information was provided to the 6 artists and was used to create portraitbusts.[12] The portrait busts are all different, each presented on a simple wooden frame as if straight from the artist's studio. Each is made of clay and left unfired, emphasising the overall lack of certainty and finality. When seen together, the six portraits do not provide a clear, recognisable, singular identity, but a number of possibilities.

The Dead Teach the Living (1997), originally displayed at the 1997 Munster Sculpture Project in Germany, was a group of computer-reconstructed heads cast in white plaster that show different racial stereotypes.

After a True Story—Giant and Fairy Tales (1997) showed a negative impression of the skeletal remains of an 18th-century dwarf and contrasted them with a 19th-century giant. Phantom Twins (1997), consisted of leather "dolls" containing real foetal skeletons.

Selected exhibitions[edit]

  • Second Class Male, Second Class Female, November 1996
  • L'Homme Double, 1997, Lisson Gallery
  • The Dead Teach the Living, 1997, Skulpture Projekte Münster, Münster Germany
  • Solo exhibitions include the Fabric Workshop and Museum (Philadelphia), Dundee Contemporary Arts, De Appel (Amsterdam), Fundação Serralves (Lisbon), Museum für Gegenwartskunst (Zurich) and Cast From Nature, Camden Arts Centre (London).
  • In 2015 she collaborated with Brody Condon on Circles of Focus, presented at CCA Glasgow.

Selected collections[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Glasgow, Tramway 25 Albert Drive (17 July 2014). "Tramway – A History". Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  2. ^ Katrina M. Brown & Rob Tufnell, ed. (2001). Here + Now - Scottish Art 1990-2001. Dundee Contemporary Arts. p. 42. ISBN 0-9535178-7-X.
  3. ^ "Christine Borland". Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  4. ^ "Christine Borland". Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  5. ^ The Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas: press release 2002 Archived 10 November 2005 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 24 March 2006
  6. ^ "Ms Christine Borland FRSE". The Royal Society of Edinburgh. 24 August 2020. Retrieved 23 September 2021.
  7. ^ "Christine Borland". Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  8. ^ "Contemporary Artists". Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  9. ^ "Christine Borland". Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  10. ^ "Christine Borland". Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  11. ^ Christine Borland at the Lisson by Melissa E. Feldman Retrieved 24 March 2006
  12. ^ "Christine Borland". Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  13. ^ "Christine Borland at Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh". Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  14. ^ "Christine Borland born 1965". Tate.

External links[edit]