Installation view of artist Kate MccGwire's solo show, entitled 'Disquiet', at Le Royal Monceau. Photography: Mario Fourmy
The British sculptor uses antique cabinets as a starting point, and forms her otherworldly sculptures according to their shapes, such as with 'Flail', 2013, (centre). Photography: Mario Fourmy
A detail of 'Flail', made from crow feathers, which serves as a larger and more complex partner piece to the artist's former favourite work, 'Gag', from 2009. Photography: John-Paul Bland
MccGwire's passion lies in creating site-specific installations in historical buildings, but they have taken on a new, 'alien' meaning in the context of the gallery's pristine white setting. Pictured in the foreground, 'Shroud', 2013. Photography: Mario Fourmy
A close-up look at 'Shroud’, which explores the hidden side of nature and comprises mallard feathers and quills. Photography: John-Paul Bland
‘Sluice’, 2009, is a site-specific installation, created using pigeon feathers, that was originally unveiled in a subterranean setting. MccGwire says, 'At Le Royal Monceau it is like an alien creature is oozing out of the floor, flowing along and then disappearing under the wall.' Photography: Mario Fourmy
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British sculptor Kate MccGwire’s beautiful installations have caught our eye in London before and now a flock of her feathered artworks has taken flight to Paris. The artist's new animal-like forms are on show at Le Royal Monceau hotel - in an exhibition entitled ‘Disquiet’ - alongside seminal pieces from her past.
The self-described sculptor-cum-hoarder-cum-creator fashions her hybrid sculptures from tactile, organic materials to create works that explore the fugue between life and death. Often encased in antique display cabinets like natural history exhibits, her works are seemingly trapped in limbo.
One of the standout new pieces – a knotted work made from crow feathers, entitled ‘Flail’ - is the partner piece to ‘Gag’ from 2009, a personal favourite of the artist. ‘"Gag" was such an important piece for me that I had always wanted to have the chance to make a similar but larger more animated and complicated work,’ explains MccGwire. ‘I finally found a suitable cabinet that would suit a complicated crow feather knot. I am seduced by crow feathers; they have a magnificent seductive blue and black sheen to them, which seems to add to their reputation of being slick, devious, and the bearer of bad omens.’
‘Smother’, meanwhile, touches on motherhood, both in its name and its use of dove and swan feathers, shaped in a buxom, feminine form, while ‘Shroud’ explores the hidden side of nature. ‘Sluice’, an older site-specific installation originally unveiled in a subterranean setting, has reemerged for this outing at the Parisian gallery.
MccGwire typically installs her works in historic or unsual spaces, so the stark gallery setting is something of a departure for the artist. ‘Of course, showing pieces in the 'white space' negates some of those possible links and associations,’ she says. ‘But I actually enjoy showing work that is alien in a very immaculate pristine space.'
Though her works seem unsettling at first glance, there is something strangely familiar in their forms – their curves and crevices have a corporeal quality. ‘The notion of the uncanny is central to my practice,' adds the artist. 'I am making work that appears familiar in the materials that I use, but they are never a depiction of a specific physical thing. I allow myself to work very intuitively, giving my imagination free reign.’
One of the most intriguing things about her work, however, is that which isn’t visible to the eye. The material used in the sculptures’ cores is a closely guarded secret and MccGwire intends to shroud herself and her art in the same mystery as her menagerie of macabre wonders.
‘Disquiet’ runs until 3 November
Le Royal Monceau Raffles Paris
Art District Gallery
37 Avenue Hoche