Common Groin

Common Groin | Christine Borland

8 April – 4 June 2017

Hezileki: I have just found you, what are you doing here?

Christine: I’m learning how to make a traditional loom and traditional techniques for weaving cotton… I started to think about this when I saw a loom in the Museum of Scotland which was sent back from Malawi by missionary and explorer, David Livingston in 1871 and shows a technique of weaving exactly like yours.

Blantyre, Malawi, February 2017

Common Groin presents new work by Christine Borland, developing conversations begun on a trip to Malawi earlier this year and others from a previous visit to Zambia in 2014.

Research for the exhibition explored the historical and contemporary links between Scotland and Malawi through a material focus on cotton production and its many uses, both industrial and domestic. Combining traditional and contemporary materials, the artist’s use of thread references mathematical models commissioned by the Science Museum, London in 1872, which influenced the mid-20th Century sculpture of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.
It is also from one of these models that the exhibition takes its title – the common groin a mathematical model depicting the intersection of two cylinders having a pair of common tangents. Within the exhibition this title takes on further layers of meaning with a series of three new sculptural works made from replica bones of Australopithecus afarensis, or “Lucy”, an early human ancestor whose skeletal remains found in Ethiopia shifted our understanding of human evolution.

Accompanying the exhibition is a text written by Marion Eele, a freelance curator currently studying on the MLitt Curatorial Practice (Contemporary Art) run jointly by The Glasgow School of Art and the University of Glasgow. She has been working alongside the artist during the development of the work for this exhibition and was invited to write a text drawing out aspects of Borland’s reasearch. This text is available to read here.

The exhibition was commissioned by Timespan as part of a year-long programme focusing on making – looking at the tools, techniques, and materials of making past, present and future and the ways in which our contemporary material culture connects us to a wider world.


Christine Borland (born Darvel, Ayrshire, 1965) lives and works in Argyll and Bute. She is a graduate of the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Ulster in Belfast and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1997. She is also a professor at Northumbria University, Newcastle.

Her work often develops in close collaboration with those working “in the field”, whether scientific, medical, or technical; making visible people, subject matter and practices which are usually inaccessible to a general public.

The work in this exhibition develops research begun for an earlier project, Below another sky, a collaborative commissioning programme developed by the Scottish Print Network for which Borland developed a series of prints exploring the complexities of the post-colonial period through the textile industries of Scotland and Zambia.  It also references work made for the Pittenweem Arts Festival, 2016 where Borland presented 3D printed objects created by scanning and printing the negative space within a series of Hepworth sculptures.

The focus on weaving reflects Borland’s own family background in the textile and lace-making industries which thrived during the 20th century in her hometown of Darvel, Ayrshire.


Image: Good Weaver (still), Christine Borland, 2017