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Serpentine Coiled Sculptures of Found British Bird Feathers by Kate MccGwire


Turmoil, 2016. Mixed media with pheasant feathers in antique dome. 58 x 43 x 60 cm. All photos by JP Bland

Kate MccGwire‘s roiling feather sculptures juxtapose the beautiful, delicate material with discomfiting shapes. Whereas her earlier work tended toward sprawling installations that oozed and slid toward the viewer, MccGwire’s more recent pieces are tightly wound and displayed within the confines of frames, cabinets, and bell jars.

Although at first glance the incredible colors and patterns seem exotic, the British MccGwire sources all of her feathers dropped feathers provided by farmers, gamekeepers, and pigeon racers. She was originally inspired to begin working with feathers after discovering a local pigeon colony that dropped feathers near her rural art studio. Magpie and mallard feathers gleam an iridescent inky blue, and pheasant feathers sport detailed patterns.

In an interview with Artnews, MccGwire describes her work: “I’m thinking of it as being like an umbilical cord. I want to seduce by what I do—but revolt in equal measure. It’s really important to me that you’ve got that rejection of things you think you know for sure.”

MccGwire is represented by La Galerie Particuliere and Mark Sanders Art Consultancy and exhibits widely; she currently has works in three shows. The artist also shares updates on Facebook and Instagram.


Spill, 2016. Mixed media with magpie feathers. 53 x 93 x 9.5 cm


Spill (detail), 2016. Mixed media with magpie feathers. 53 x 93 x 9.5 cm


Sentient, 2016. Mixed media with goose feathers in bespoke cabinet. 56.5 x 40 x 40 cm


Spate, 2015. Mixed media with pheasant feathers. 127 x 155 x 10 cm


Conundrum, 2017. Mixed media with rooster feathers in bespoke brass vitrine. 100 x 60 x 30 cm


Swathe, 2014. Pigeon tail feathers on archival board. 69 x 69 x 17 cm


Swathe (detail), 2014. Pigeon tail feathers on archival board. 69 x 69 x 17 cm


Sissure: Breach, 2016. Mixed media with goose down and pigeon quills. 55 x 29 x 6 cm

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