Two internationally renowned British artists, Peter Randall-Page RWA and Kate MccGwire, have been brought together for this arresting exhibition as part of the RWA’s environmental theme for Bristol’s year as European Green Capital. Featuring new work, both artists explore natural phenomena, patterns and repetition, utilising natural or found materials by which to reflect the rhythms of nature.
Randall-Page, one of Britain’s pre-eminent sculptors – whose work is now held by numerous public collections including The British Museum, Tate and The British Council – has carved out an illustrious career, leading to high-profile public commissions such as the monolithic granite Seed at the Eden Project, and this summer’s prestigious invitation to show at the parallel locations of Arte Sella and Villa Panza in Italy.
Randall-Page’s work draws on a broad frame of reference from geology, biology and morphology to mathematics, music, pattern and variation. Yet, his primary concern is with our subjective, emotional response to shape and form.
Exploring both two- and three-dimensional space the exhibition features new works, created specifically for the RWA’s stunning galleries. Work on show also includes the expansive wall-sculpture Wing made from brick clay alongside characteristically recognisable bronze works Inside Out I, II & III, investigating the relationship between growth and erosion. In contrast to the solidity of Randall-Page’s sculptures sit a series of his recent large-scale ‘branching’ ink drawings which create watery tributaries across the wall, rich russet-red and black ink splaying outwards like the branches of a tree, river deltas or vascular and neural networks.
MccGwire‘s career has soared since her degree show at the Royal College of Art in 2004, at which the Saatchi Gallery bought her body of work, including the intricate installation Brood made from 20,000 chicken wishbones. Since then, the focus of her work has continued on an ornithological theme, using meticulously preserved feathers from pigeons, ducks, crows and magpies (often sent to her in envelopes by pigeon racers, farmers and bird keepers) in her sculptural practice. Like Randall-Page, MccGwire will also be showing in Italy this summer, taking part in the 56th Venice Biennale as part of Glasstress 2015 Gotika, a joint collaboration between The State Hermitage Museum, Russia and Berengo Glass Studio.
MccGwire will be showing Gyre her largest work to date – which entailed four years of collecting crow feathers to complete – alongside new work made especially for the RWA exhibition, including her beguiling feathered sculptures claustrophobically encased in glass. Whereas, Randall-Page works from the inside-out, MccGwire’s work hints at something hidden or lying dormant beneath the surface, concealed by luminescent plumes. Her writhing, serpentine sculptures – such as the monumental Gyre – are at once both compelling and repelling, beautiful and grotesque.
Randall-Page is an RWA Academician and MccGwire has previously exhibited at the Academy as part of Unnatural Natural History, an international group show in 2012 curated by Coates and Scarry. Brought together here for the first time, this exhibition considers their work side-by-side exploring two very different interpretations of the natural world.
Peter Randall-Page RWA has exhibited widely including major solo shows at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and most recently at Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery and Plymouth University, 2014. He has undertaken numerous large-scale commissions in England and abroad and his work is held in public and private collections including Japan, South Korea, Australia, USA, Turkey, Eire, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. His public sculptures can be found in London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Oxford, Cambridge and Bristol. He was elected an RWA in 1993.
Kate MccGwire was recently selected for the 2015 Venice Biennale and has previously shown at Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature and Museum National d’histoire Naturelle, Paris; Galerie Particulière, Brussels; MoMu, Antwerp; Norwich Castle Museum; The Royal Academy, London; Shenghua Art Centre, China; and numerous other unusual site-specific venues including the National Trust properties Tatton Park, Felbrigg Hall, and Attingham Park. She has completed residencies in China and New York and studied at the Royal College of Art.