Kate MccGwire graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2004 and has since exhibited all over London, winning a solo show at 2009's Heart of Glass. Her most recent installations are made from thousands of pigeon feathers, flowing water and even a mouldy growth on a wall.
Hello Kate. Why pigeon feathers?
I am currently using pigeon feathers as they come from a bird that is generally reviled - regarded as vermin and referred to as ‘rats with wings’. I started to collect pigeon feathers that moulted from the birds in a shed next to my studio – I realised that they were actually very beautiful.
Layers and overlapping objects seem to be a running theme - with both your feather pieces and the burned book in ‘SEETHE’/ FUME.
Yes the layering of the charred paper is similar to that of the feathers – my studio is very near a geese colony and I was astounded to see how similar the layering of feathers on a goose’s back resembles ‘SEETHE’/ FUME. My studio burnt down in 2007 and, where I had stored paper, the edges had become burnt but the internal sheets remained perfectly white. The delicate charred edges fascinated me and after the trauma of the fire destroying my work, I decided that I wanted to be able to control fire. The beauty and delicacy of the layering is somewhat of a happy accident and one that I am working to exploit – I still have further plans for this series of work.
How is your artwork made?
Very much trial and error – playing with everyday/discarded materials.
Where do you get your feathers from - assuming you don't go around plucking pigeons?
I have been very lucky and collect them from numerous sources all over the UK
Tell us about BROOD, one of your installations that was snapped up by Saatchi in 2004?
BROOD was my MA show piece from the RCA Sculpture department – I had been playing with/arranging the several hundred wishbones that I had collected over the years and then I was given the most amazing space for my final show. The wall was 7m x 5.7 m. I worked out that I needed approximately 27,000 bones to cover the entire wall – it took me a about five months to collect that quantity of bones from poultry processors. I received the bones covered in flesh and had to boil them up to clean them. The bones were arranged over the entire wall in a spiral – laid out by eye it assumed a sort of rhythmic pattern. It took 10 days to install at the Saatchi Gallery in the exhibition called Galleon and Other Stories in June 2004
BROOD (DETAIL II) 2007
What have you got planned for your next project?
I am co-curating a show in June called The Space Between at St Pancras Crypt in London. Opening on the 5th of June and running to the 21st, there are nine artists - Marilene Oliver, Annie Cattrell Amanda Couch, Jan Dunning, Richard Ducker, Joy Gerrard, Kate Street, Esther Teichmann and myself. The website will launch soon www.thespacebetween.org.uk.
You can see more of Kate's work at www.katemcgwire.com