Feathers are a thing of beauty. Birds use their iridescent plumage to show off and attract a mate and people often use them to adorn themselves. At odds with these norms are Kate MccGwire’s works where birds’ feathers are used to create writhing forms that appear alive with malicious intent.
The first piece to confront visitors is made of black crow feathers and its serpentine appearance threatens to constrict anything that dare come near it. This is complemented by the white-feathered ‘Cleave’. White may be a symbol of purity and innocence yet this sculpture is so densely packed, it’s as if it any point it could unfurl to reveal a razor sharp beak and talons.
‘Gyre’ is the largest piece and it dominates the exhibition as two befeathered and searching tentacles emerge from the wall looking for their next prey. Like the other works on display, it’s both beautiful and monstrous at the same time.
There is also a set of black canvases on the wall that have been burnt in a few places to reveal layers of feathers underneath. It furthers the sense of latent threat that pervades throughout this show.
The last time we were at All Visual Arts was for the excellent and macabre Polly Morgan exhibition. This show is just as unnerving but in a less overt way, which adds to its appeal.
Kate MccGwire – Lure is on display at All visual Arts, 2 Omega Place, N1 9DR until 31 January. Admission is free.