Bones, feathers, dead insects and other objects of great beauty.

I remember finding a dead fly as a child. I was mesmerised by its crisp cellophane wings, the soft, lustrous fur on its back and legs, and the deep black sheen of its eyes. I put it on the mantlepiece next to my Swarovski crystal ornaments.

A feather in the park would overwhelm me with its softness as I traced it over my nose and lips. The soft pearly grey of a pigeon feather, or the joyful yellow tip of a cockatoo plume.

An old neighbour kept a cat skeleton on her windowsill. Smooth white bones that fitted so perfectly together. So fascinating and elegant in their construction.

As children we see things for their true aesthetic value. It is only cultural conditioning that makes us think of such objects as dirty, disease-ridden, disgusting or even frightening.

I’ve recently been seeking out artists who use these cast away objects to create their work. They create works that are beautiful, mesmeric and often strangely sad, emotional or confronting. We are torn between appreciating the beauty of the pieces, and questioning their construction – the location and assemblage of their components.

Kate MccGwire “Brood” 2004

Kate MccGwire’s “Brood” is constructed from 23,000 wish bones. The initial feeling of luck, hope and optimism is slowly overtaken by feelings of nausea and concern. We can’t help but question how many birds died for this artwork, and begin to question our own actions and behaviour, our society’s mass consumption and greed.

Kate MccGwire “Heave” 2008

Kate MccGwire “Sluice” 2009

Kate MccGwire “Stifle” 2009

Kate MccGwire also creates installations with feathers. These works are incredibly compelling and enticing, with their soft lustre and intricate construction, but they simultaneously disturb and repel, as the feathers pour, twist and flood spaces en masse.

You can see more of Kate MccGwire’s work at her website.

Claire Morgan “A Part at the Seam” 2009

Claire Morgan “Fluid” 2009

Claire Morgan “On Top of the World” 2009

Claire Morgan assembles taxidermied animals, dead insects, seeds, thistles, fruit and plastic (among other objects) to create her fascinating installations. Her geometric constructions are suspended in space and ask us to reflect on life, death, desire and fate.

You can see more of Claire Morgan’s work at her website.

Linde Ivimey “Venetian” 2009

Linde Ivimey “Buck” 2009

Linde Ivimey “Miriam” 2009

Linde Ivimey uses chicken vertebrae, turkey, chicken and sheep bones in combination with resin and steel armature to create her compelling sculptures. On first glance, Ivimey’s creations are charming, whimsical and childlike. But on closer inspection we discover a far more sinister side. The works are gritty, dark and quite frightening at times. What is decorative at a distance speaks strongly of death, witchcraft and destruction up close (often referencing mythology and bible stories), a captivating contrast and irony.

You can see more of Linde Ivimey’s work through the Martin Browne Fine Art website. I’m lucky enough to live a few steps from Martin Browne and can never resist visiting Ivimey’s works when they come to town.


All photographs in this post are copyright the artists.


~ by Niccola on August 13, 2010.

2 Responses to “Bones, feathers, dead insects and other objects of great beauty.”

  1. […] that surrounded my latest artistic adventure. Those strange mental meanderings in the world of bones, feathers and dead insects. All rendered in fiddly, delicate but beautiful […]

  2. Hi vonwoof,

    I really enjoy reading your blog. Thought you might be interested in a exhibition I am curating: “Fashioning Feathers: Dead Birds, Millinery Crafts and the Plumage Trade”.

    It deals with similar issues you bring up in this blog post to with compulsion and repulsion, beauty and death…

    for more details check out the website

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