Monday 20 July – Friday 23 October 2020
11am – 4pm
With our focus this year on Harewood’s bird collection, and the 50th anniversary of the Bird Garden, renowned British sculptor Kate MccGwire was invited to create a new exhibition in the House. With eight sculptures, including one new commission, Menagerie shines a spotlight on the ‘common’ bird and connects the themes of nature, sustainability and art in a series of beautiful and intricate pieces across the State Floor.
Inspired by nature, Kate works primarily with discarded feathers, playing with opposites and contrasts in her pieces, which are visually striking, often with a darker undertone and context. She has exhibited all over the world, in addition to creating acclaimed site-specific installations within historical buildings.
A new installation for the Yellow Drawing Room
Continuing our vision to support contemporary artists, Harewood commissioned a brand new work from Kate for the Yellow Drawing Room. Kate was inspired by the ornate design of the room, with its Chippendale furniture and in particular the Robert Adam ceiling. Cavort uses the ceiling as a starting point for a floor sculpture that combines mirrors and reflections, bringing the room and its decoration to light in a playful way. It is made from the feathers of game birds, with preparation work supported by a team of hands-on Harewood volunteers.
Kate graduated from the Royal College of Arts, London, in 2004. Raised in rural Norfolk, surrounded by the wildlife of the Norfolk Broads, the connection with nature stayed with her, and her studio is a barge moored on an island on the River Thames.
There’s no one currently more apt to bring the connection between art, the House Collection and the Bird Garden to life, intertwining the themes of beauty and regeneration, life and death. The focus of Kate’s work is to produce something that can be understood and appreciated on many levels, to provoke a reaction that in itself has contrasts.
Recycling and sustainability
Describing herself as a hoarder, Kate continually collects from an increasingly growing network of sources and interested parties, including racing pigeon enthusiasts. Feathers are the main focus of her sculptures and are essentially a by-product of something else, including the discarded moults of racing pigeons.
Kate works with the feathers in a meticulous way to create the shapes and colours of her sinuous sculptures. They are trimmed and sorted by size, colour and pattern variation. This year for her new commission in the House, this job was undertaken by a team of Harewood staff and volunteers, with feathers used from the Bird Garden as part of her new piece.