Circles of Focus



Christine Borland’s career has seen her work move increasingly towards the medical profession and she has developed a way of interacting as an artist within this professional culture which I find fascinating.

As Baltic Professor at the University of Northumbria, I see Borland as being at the vanguard of developing our understanding the relationship art has with research.

She is currently working with her long time collaborator Brody Condon on an extended research project with Dr Quentin Fogg, who until recently worked at the laboratory of Human Anatomy at the University of Glasgow.

The length, structure and form of that research are all fascinating to me and extremely useful to be reminded of, as I scrabble to regain my footing after two years of post graduate study. Each part is examined forensically and reflected on until every possible particle of meaning appears to have been extracted and considered. This is Art C.S.I.

The project is parcelled up and project managed, funding sought for each stage and the work itself altered to take advantage of opportunities made available.

Years of working in the anatomy department looking at the way bodies are dissected and preserved for research has led to an outcome which is so lengthy in the duration of its process, that the final planned sculptural intervention, slight and delicate as it is, may occur after the death of the artists themselves.


With great care and precision, Borland, Condon and Fogg have set in motion a process for amending the consent form for bodies to be used for medical research to include that they will also be used for artistic research. Two volunteers have agreed to consider signing such a bequest form, both of whom are alive and well.

Eventually it is planned that a private sculptural intervention will take place utilising post-mortem hypostasis and the environment of the dissecting room to make an art work around patterns indented in the flesh of a corpse.

No dead bodies or intimate details will ever be displayed publicly. In fact the recent exhibition of progress so far used a dancer laying on a geometric shape until red marks formed on her skin, but this was a professional performer choreographing her own movements.

I spoke to Christine and asked her how relevant the exhibition was to her as an artist when it felt to me as if most of the potency of the research was located elsewhere and for other audiences.

Although she did say that she would only present work in galleries whilst it still felt relevant and interesting, she did also make reference to the ubiquitous nature of the gallery as a mechanism for exposure and therefore further funding and the continuance of the project.

The project is entitled ‘Circles of Focus’ and is recent incarnation was at CCA galleries, Glasgow for those wishing to find out more. I know that many of our students combine work and OCA study. Is anybody making art work about their other professional sphere?

Featured Image: From CCA

Similar Articles...

2 comments for “Circles of Focus

  1. 29 June 2015 at 11:54 am

    This is very interesting and slightly spooky. As an ex- medical student who had the opportunity to dissect a human body, I can relate to the detailing of the project. I am currently studying Writing Skills, a level one Creative Writing course and have been revisiting old diaries from the time I was a medical student. i have started to write a piece about the dissection room, but from the viewpoint of a fellow student. So, I will certainly look into Borland’s work with a renewed interest.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *