Kate MccGwire is an internationally renowned British sculptor whose practice probes the beauty inherent in duality, employing natural materials to explore the play of opposites at an aesthetic, intellectual and visceral level. Growing up on the Norfolk Broads her connection with nature and fascination with birds was nurtured from an early age, with avian subjects and materials a recurring theme in her artwork. Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2004 her uncanny sculptures have been exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery (London), the Museum of Art and Design (New York), Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Paris) and recently at Glasstress, an official collateral event of the Venice Biennale. (7)
I found MccGuire's work at first glance extremely beautiful and it was not a suprise to me to see she is well exhibited. What interested me about the amount of places she has exhibited was if she installs pieces fitting the unique space of some galleries and with some further research found:
It’s going to be a busy few months ahead, March is a new installation in the Tatton Park Biennial, Cheshire. Then a large scale feather installation at the Museum of Art and Design in New York, in April" (11)
This shows she does tend to create site specific work. An example of this can be seen on the left, which is small and comes out from one of the buildings pipes. Although I like this piece, I significantly prefer the installation at 2:46 in the YouTube video (12) to the left, which fills the room. I think it is more successful because the feathers going onto the floor are more controlled and thick whereas the sparse feathers on the floor from the pictured installation lose the beauty of the natural bird like organised feathers on the curved form.
I try and create works which are bodily, that have some sort of visceral, immediate feeling about them. A reference again to the notion of the uncanny, both relating to the organic body and yet alien and strange. The pieces in the cabinets for instance are trapped, they have no head to them, they are uncomfortable and beautiful at the same time, we recognise creases and crevices and they refer back to ourselves but they are otherworldly. I’m constantly trying to construct this fine line between attractive and vaguely disquieting. (9)
The cabinet pieces are undoubtedly trapped, it is the first word that came to mind when I saw images of these sculptures. I find some more than others, for example in the two cabinet pieces bellow (right) I feel more sorry for the large white one than the smaller one. This could be to do with scale, however one would normally find smaller things 'cuter', but there is an element of so big its cute. Although it is an obscure reference, this reminds me of Baymax (see source 10) from Big Hero 6 a Disney film. I think the idea of something being so big its personified and becomes cuter would be something I would like to explore. A large impact on the reason the viewer may sympathise with the art works, or anthropomorphise them is because of the colour. White is often seen as pure, clean, innosent and it is possible this contributes to the anthropomorphising of the sculptures, so I could use the colour to try and promote this idea. Another parallel I draw between the two that interests me is how easy it is to interpret both of the things as living creatures. Obviously Baymax is based on the human form however it is pushed to such an extreme it is mainly just two black dots that make us read him as a HIM. MccGuire's piece on the other hand is interpreted as a being because of the material.
Both pieces in the cabinets pictured are feathured so I don't believe this is why I sympathise and prefer the larger piece. I think the colour makes it easier to read the larger one as Pigion feathers, compared to the crow feathers where it is easier to ditatch the material from the sculpture and focus on form without feeling sympathy. Something that interested me about the interview was that the smaller right sculpture 'Gag' was her favorite cabinate piece.
I find the larger sculpture to almost have a narritive, prehaps because I have been looking at it for too long, but the cabinet on the top's decoration reminds me of a gate to medevil prisions and I see the sculpture as a prisioner curled up into themselves. 'Gag' on the other hand reminds me more of a museam exhibition. Having analysed her work more I feel I understand what she meant by people bringing their experiences when observing the piece more.
I feel I've changed my mind and I now prefer the cabinate pieces because it interests me greatly how much I have managed to convinve myself the sculpture inside is a living breathing thing with feelings.
(8) Both pictures sourced from http://braided-stream.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/kate-mcguire.html?m=1
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