Kate MccGwire’s work exists in a twilight zone where beauty butts up against ugliness, rapture meets disgust and reason superstition. She will take an everyday material or object – a chicken wishbone, pigeon feather or book – and, by re-framing it, generate ‘a field of attraction’ around it. The viewer is left reeling, simultaneously seduced and alienated, relishing the spectacle but at the same time aware of something disquieting, something ‘other’.
Her instinctively aesthetic approach – pared-down, spare and sensual – ultimately proves treacherous; the bone invokes the chill of death and stench of the killing fields, the feathers a gag-like response at their parasitic growth, while the inverted flower scarring the book’s pages denies all possibility of human progress through knowledge.
The shift from a world in which objects sit in their ‘natural’ place allows us a new perspective, exposing us to the macabre truths that lurk behind the familiar and the nightmarish reality of what it is to be human – a brutal consciousness of the ugly and the funereal, of fear and disgust.