Kate MccGwire @ All Visual Arts


The gallery which gave us taxidermy for the summer is now presenting its audience with feathers for the winter. Six months ago All Visual Arts gave us the preserved animal remains from the Serengeti of Polly Morgan. Now, we are shown nature from closer to home, the beguiling sculptures of Kate MccGwire constructed out of feathers from crows, pigeons and magpies.

MccGwire has presented the viewer with stunning depictions of natural elegance. All the feathers used are either black, white, blue or grey. Never mixing colour or type together she allows them to shine individually in a subtle display of beauty. I would never have imagined pigeon feathers to be appear so decadent and had I not been aware that the artist had used the feathers of a bird so often thought of as vermin, I would never have had any idea.

In terms of form, the feathers are arranged in large plaited offerings to coiled cylinders. MccGwire has also used the quill ends in some of her works to show another dimension and texture. Some of the works have been displayed in antique cabinets to add another sense of luxury and wealth. Where other feathers are shown through holes in burnt lead coloured canvases to give a contrast of texture. The works also range in size from small and dainty to the extraordinarily large Gyre, a large black plait which sprawls itself across the gallery floor like some kind of exquisite feathered monster.

This show is incredibly graceful. MccGwire succeeds in showing the bird in a way never thought possible before. Bewitching, beguiling and engaging.

Kate MccGwire: Lure is on display at All Visual Arts until 26 January 2013

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer with a special interest in contemporary Middle Eastern Art. She has a BA in Art History and an MA in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She runs the Gallery Girl blog and also writes for After Nyne, Ibraaz and Reorient.

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