Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Kate MccGwire: Lure

I thought I'd missed this exhibition of Kate MccGwire’s work at All Visual Arts but the exhibition dates had been extended so I was able to catch it this week. Her sculptural and pictorial work includes the feathers of everyday birds that we generally ignore, but the glorious colours in some of these pieces, the iridescent blues and greens of the mallard and the bright blue of jay feathers, were beautiful. The exhibition includes beautiful sculptural forms presented as scientific specimens in glass cabinets and pictorial pieces exploring the beauty and patterns of feathers. The gallery is dominated by ‘Gyre’ a twisting coil of black crows’ feathers that snakes into the central space. Although it twists into the gallery, the form appears quite controlled, smooth and uniform, more like an exploring tentacle than an eruption into the space. Another black form, but a more disturbing one because it appeared abjectly human, was ‘Coerce’ a dress-like shape held in scientific clamps in an antique cabinet. The front of the form was covered in smooth magpie feathers but the back revealed a slash of sharp quill ends appearing as a scar down the length of the form; a disturbing contrast to the smooth front. Quill ends were also used effectively in two pieces entitled ‘Surge’ which used crow and pigeon quills to suggest movement within a rectangular frame. I went to the exhibition to see the large feather pieces, but was also impressed by the ‘Stigma’ series which I had not heard about before. These are rectangular pieces of lead with one or two circular areas removed to reveal decreasing circles of tightly packed pigeon tail feathers. There was great depth to the pieces and almost a silky smoothness to the lead, which appeared quite textile like, and contrasted with the rough feathers of the stigma. All in all, the variety of pieces and the combination of sculpture and wall-hung pieces made for an interesting exhibition.

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