Kate MccGwire received an MA from the Royal College of Art.
Thousands of locally sourced bird feathers, each taken from a species regularly cooked in the house ovens, were reassembled to create a new, uncanny ‘creature’. Horrifyingly beautiful, the work suggested a new and menacing presence emanating from the cast iron oven. Coiling, pluming and creeping through the kitchen, the work felt weighty, meaty. The visitor was at once taken by the gorgeousness of the work itself – the assemblage of ‘common’ feathers presented as something completely exotic – and the shame involved in discarding objects of beauty in favour of a perfunctory dinner.
Kate MccGwire: I deliberately choose materials that possess a beauty and power when used in abundance and in a context beyond which they can popularly lay claim. The common pigeon is considered a pest, dirty and feral. The dove however, is the symbol of purity, peace and hope. Cherished, they are given their own dovecotes to live in yet they are exactly the same type of bird as the pigeon just with white feathers. Pigeon-fanciers would indeed disagree with the opinion pigeons are “rats with wings”, and that dual perspective adds another ‘layer’ to the feathers meaning.
WHERE did you get feathers?
I started to pick up molted pigeon feathers in the park around 2007 within a couple of months I had a collection of about 400. I realized quickly their potential for a larger scale piece where I would need thousands.
I contacted pigeon racing clubs and racing enthusiasts throughout the UK, asking them to send me their molted feathers that would normally be discarded as rubbish – now three years later, I have approximately 200 individuals who regularly send me envelopes full of pigeon feathers. I frequently keep them updated with images of my work and have been delighted with the incredible support they have given. This collaborative aspect of collecting to acquire materials has become an integral part of the process of making my work.
And here it is the most amazing, white piece. Seems like untouched magical and peaceful thing.