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kate mccgwire’s feathered forms challenge our perception of beauty

London based Kate MccGwire challenges our perception of beauty, taking feathers from birds commonly viewed with disdain and re-framing them to create forms that are sensual; that flow; that draw the viewer in closer, closer still.


Urge, mixed media with mallard, magpie and jackdaw feathers

Urge, detail

“As the work takes shape, a new, playful reality emerges, so that the object itself becomes a sort of prism, refracting the layers of meaning and cultural associations buried within, the quantity of materials used sometimes deliberately overwhelming, as if charged with a power and ambition beyond the reach they possess when seen in isolation.” Kate MccGwire

Wrest, mixed media with pigeon feathers

Host II, mixed media with pigeon tail feathers

Gag, mixed media with crow feathers

Kate MccGwire in her studio

MccGwire immerses herself in nature, working out of a studio on a Dutch barge moored on a semi-derelict island in the river Thames. It is here that she collects and sorts thousands of feathers – pigeon, magpie, crow – to use in her sculptures and large scale installations. Crucial to this process is the artist’s relationship with more than 200 pigeon enthusiasts who collect molted feathers for her, regularly mailing envelopes full of feathers that she cleans and adds to her collection. It can take months or years to have enough of one kind for a specific artwork.

In this two minute video MccGwire gives some insight into how and why she works with pigeon feathers.

Read an interview with the artist in Juxtapoz Magazine

Thanks to Nancy Castaldo for letting us know about MccGwire. Castaldo, who has written several children’s books, is teaching a class this summer for children age 11-14 and one of the projects will be sculptures inspired by MccGwire’s feathered forms – how cool is that?

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4 Responses to kate mccgwire’s feathered forms challenge our perception of beauty

  1. I found a magpie feather this morning and thought “wow I want to make something with that” However this just beats anything I could have imagined. As for pigeons, I quite like the feral pigeons. I have a bit of a soft spot for the scrawny mangled ones with twisted tallons. I might be alone in that though.

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