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Kate MccGwire

emerging contemporary artists

London-based artist Kate MccGwire transforms the overlooked into something unexpected, drawing our attention to an intrinsic beauty we've never quite taken the time to notice.

MccGwire characteristically works with large amounts of the same object which, teased into complex forms and patterns, become pieces that belie both their humble origin and uniform constituents. In this way, thousands of delicate chicken wish-bones are transformed into 'prayer mats' and fragile mandalas; vasts lengths of tape or string bound into sculptural form.

Nevertheless, it's her recent work with pigeon plumage that's really causing a flutter.

The pigeon, of course, is a perfect emblem of the commonplace - often seen as dull, even considered vermin - but MccGwire's feathered forms emphasise the dramatic beauty of the bird's natural markings.

Kate MccGwireKate MccGwire - emerging contemporary art (detail)

Yet something of the revulsion associated with the 'flying rat' also remains: erupting into the gallery space, her installations' insistent patterning appears more scaly and reptilian than bird-like, and with names such as 'Host' or 'Retch', there's no escaping their essentially disquieting nature.

This is work that taps soundly into two current trends - the re-visioning of the ordinary and a pervasive sense of gothic dread - albeit in a highly elegant, memorable fashion. But can poor old pigeons never shake off their ill-repute? We belong to the minority that really rather likes them - though perhaps not as much as these pigeon-inspired works.

January, 2006


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