King’s Cross based gallery All Visual Arts has extended the current exhibition LURE by Kate MccGwire. As someone who’s loved her work ever since I saw the work Corvid at AVA’s Bound in 2011, I’m very excited to see her continuing success. LURE has had the most visitors of any exhibition at AVA. Furthermore, a catalogue is coming out in February 2013 with an essay by Judith Collins.
Kate very kindly suggested we meet up to discuss some of the pieces in LURE. This ended up as three of her favourites versus three of my favourites.
Volt Café: Kate, you have chosen Stigma, F.I.N.E and Splice as your three. Let’s start with Splice…
Kate MccGwire: Hair has been an overriding influence in my work. My dissertation was on the mythology of hair. The magpie feathers I used in Splice really catch the light, and I like the use of the clamp. An edge between the beauty and the abject.
VC: Yes, I noticed you’ve introduced clamps in quite a few pieces in this exhibition.
KM: It’s an outside force, a restriction. Before, a lot of my work was squirming with its own force. It does require some degree of planning to make it look effortless, especially with the pieces that are inside the antique domes.
VC: Now tell me about F.I.N.E – a very different title from your usual ones, it made me laugh as it’s an acronym of Fucked-up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional!
KM: My sons are 17 and 19 respectively so I have a lot of teens coming into my house. The young girls just wind me up, you offer them food or drink and everything is ‘no thanks, I’m fine’. They seem to just perch on the edge of things, both literally and metaphorically. And F.I.N.E is the embodiment of that state. Young girls are so intent on being skinny and have an obsession with celebrity. Boys are outdoorsier; they are relieved from having to look gorgeous. Yet they both admire celebrity in the same way, the ambition appears to be focused on money rather than creativity. It felt extremely right for the cabinet.
VC: Last – but not least – Stigma.
KM: To me it brings to mind layers of flesh, the juxtaposition of feathers and lead is like cell structures. Initially I looked at cancer cells but it felt wrong, too loaded. But it has possibly fed off that. Lead is beautiful to work with, it’s really soft. You shouldn’t touch it because it is toxic. Feels dangerous. And some people don’t like to touch pigeon feathers because they think they are dirty. So the two together are really rather powerful.
VC: My absolute favourite piece is Cleave – it’s very sensual, the mixture of the smooth white feathers with the quills and the way it’s a heart, a pair of wings, a woman’s thighs, female genitalia, a pregnant belly… It’s got it all! This is just the front of the piece, once you view it from the back it magically transforms into a pair of magnificent balls and cock buried in an arse. Perfection! Now tell me what the real interpretation is…
KM: It’s actually based on a statue of a cherub, which I tried to carve so it looked as if it repeated on itself. I was really pleased with the result till I stepped back and suddenly realised! The word Cleave strangely means not only to break apart but also to join in marriage or become strongly involved with.
VC: My next piece is Coerce – the mixture of restriction and the heft just dropping, restrained yet strong – it’s holding all that weight up. Again you have used quills as a contrast to the smooth feathers – this time magpie. The whole piece is reflected in a mirror at the back.
KM: Yes, these are magpie feathers in an old jeweller’s cabinet. I wanted to make a piece that could be read from the mirror. I see it as Fallopian tubes, a coercion of sorts, because of the clamps. One tube is active, the one with the quills, the other not. I wanted it to look heavy and dragging.
VC: To me, your titles are such an important feature of the works, they always add so much. Do they come easily?
KM: Titles take me ages. I’ll trawl a Thesaurus. They come to me as I make the piece.
VC: My last work is Gyre (the opening image), a magnificent nine metre long installation that is one of the first works you see as you enter the space. I find it quite predatory, yet it could be retreating as well, as the feathers go either way on it so you get confused – is it moving towards you or recoiling?
KM: It took four assistants in the studio to make the initial parts and then 10 people over three days to finish it off once it was here at AVA. Very tricky to assemble. I wanted to do something truly impactful – maybe I went a bit over the top.
VC: What was your inspiration?
KM: I had an umbilical chord as a starting point – it has a change in structure, which I tried to imitate. A sort of bodily oozing or tentacles strangling themselves. The force of life is so important; it’s very much a cornerstone of my work.
VC: Lastly, you must be excited about the upcoming catalogue. How does it feel to read an analysis of your work?
KM: Interesting! Her questions made me think of things I hadn’t considered. She’s very outspoken; we had a wonderful brainstorming session. She interpreted the works in a very different way.
VC: Judith Collins is one of three writers who’ve covered you.
KM: Yes, all different. Her version is from an art historic perspective, mixing in my interest in stone carving, mythical beasts and Norfolk.
LURE is extended till 16th February 2013
LURE | Kate MccGwire
All Visual Arts
2 Omega Place
London N1 9DR
Kate MccGwire LURE
Published in conjunction with the exhibition LURE
Semi hardback 86 pages
Essay by Dr Judith Collins
Photography Tessa Angus, Jonty Wilde
All images ©Tessa Angus
Words Anna Bang
TagsAll Visual Arts, anna bang, Judith Collins, Kate MccGwire, LURE,