There are two impressive exhibitions featuring in Winchester at the moment. Both are of great intensity and profundity.
The main word to describe the power of Kate MccGuire’s exhibition Lure is ‘integrity’. Everything: material, the method of her working and presentation carry the same spirit and contribute to make this exhibition a powerful one. It invokes the dark sides of human’s soul, suppressed desires, which have always been companions of the mankind. It’s obvious they are seductive, the aim is to allure you.
The way the work is presented (in cabinets) reminds of people’s passion through the history to install and exhibit rare, strange species as well as weird and unhealthy curiosity for abnormalities and deformity.
Symbolic references, mythological consciousness as well as the elegance of the colour palette are the essence that the material – a host of bird feathers - is invoking and creating. That is also revealed by the archaic or rarely used words, exclusive ones, in the titles she gives to her creatures, such as Orchis, Anima, Surge - words increasing poetical atmosphere around them. I said ‘creatures’ as the exhibits’ shapes are of natural origin, gently mimicking the forms of somatic parts, both inner and outer ones.The repetitive way of assembling feathers in patterns is like a meditation over each object and that makes it powerful: little by little the maker contributes to increasing the value.
The constant thought I carried through the exhibition was about the insane spirit beyond the objects and the desire to get to know the creator of the masterpieces.
LURE is a subtle and ingenious balance between light and dark, reminding that beauty is a usual accomplice of the evil, a forbidden fruit.
The second exhibition of the ceramics by Julian Stair is presented in Winchester Cathedral, a perfect place to speak about the subject the potter is interested in.
Simplicity is the key word to describe the whole exhibition Quietus: The Vessel, Death and the Human Body, its main virtue. Julian Stair speaks about the eternal subject – death, as the title suggests, through the symbolic language of ceramics: cinerary pots, jars and sarcophagi.
But rather than forcing the dark and fearful qualities of this inescapable process, Julian Star has a philosophical approach to it. He is exposing the creativity of death. If the life cycle is constantly repeating, forming a never ending spiral, why should we consider death as the end? Death is just an integral part of this cycle and contributes to life.
Clay is used as an ingenious synonym to death and a means for considering the life cycle. Just like our remains are returning to earth to generate a new life, clay is coming out of earth to reveal its creative capacities and return back for the continuation of the cycle.
Circles going around the vessels are a delicate metaphor for the spiral form of life. Minimalistic forms the artist uses are in the unison with the simplicity of the subject he is bespeaking.