Artist unveils proposals for University of Glasgow commission

Artist Christine Borland has unveiled proposals for a new work of public art commissioned by the University of Glasgow as part of its 550th anniversary celebrations in 2001.

The commission will be a major work of art in one of the University's focal public green spaces - between the grade A-listed Round Reading Room and the Hunterian Art Gallery, close to the junction of Hillhead Street and University Avenue in Glasgow's West End. Borland has been researching the work during 2001, and her proposals will be implemented during the coming months - in time for the piece to be enjoyed this coming spring by the many members of the University community and the public who use the area.

The commission has been developed through close dialogue between the artist and a wide spectrum of the University community. Working as a Research Fellow in the University, with colleagues in the Anatomy Department and Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, together with curators in the Hunterian Museum, Borland has investigated closely an early proposal for a Physic Garden in the University, drawn up on the back of a page in a medieval herbal by Rev. Mark Jameson, a student who served as Rector's Deputy in 1555. Ideas have also developed as a result of direct input from zoologists, philosophers, anatomists, geneticists, the Department for the Study of Disability, the Department of Ethics in Medicine and staff from the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow & Edinburgh.

The finished piece, produced in collaboration with landscape architects Loci Design and under the project management of Tom Littlewood of Ginkgo Design will be the first in which Borland has tackled a work in a open-air setting of her own design. A series of low benches to sit and lie on, will be laid out like beds in a medieval garden. Each will have a head-rest whose shape is based on the simple blocks used in dissection theatres as 'pillows' to support the head of the corpse. These will be hand made in white ceramic and hand painted with adaptations of the original illustration of each plant from the herbal.

Mungo Campbell, Deputy Director of the Hunterian Art Gallery, who has co-ordinated the commission on behalf of the University's 2001 Committee, said "When Christine was selected for the 2001 project we knew that we had an outstanding opportunity to draw together the human and intellectual threads of the University's past and future development. Working with Christine, a local artist of truly international standing, has been a pleasure for all who have been involved. As we hoped, this work promises to show Christine's characteristic lightness of touch and precision of thought, inviting us to inhabit the threshold between art, science and society".

Born in Darvel, Ayrshire in 1965, Christine Borland studied at the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Ulster, Belfast. Her work has been exhibited extensively in both private and public galleries throughout the UK, Europe and USA. Christine lives in Glasgow's West End. Recent solo exhibitions have been at the Lisson Gallery, London; De Appel Foundation, Amsterdam; Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark and Dundee Contemporary Arts, Scotland. In 1997 she was commissioned to develop a new work for the Munster Sculpture Project which was subsequently shown at the Tate Gallery, London as part of the Turner Prize exhibit

Mungo Campbell (

For further information, please contact Mungo Campbell, Deputy Director, Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow. Tel 0141 330 4735. E-mail

First published: 18 December 2001