Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Fluttering Translucency

Michelle McKinney’s ethereal translucent installations introduced ground-breaking uses of industrial media in the art world, offering viewers creations of exquisite beauty.

An unknown author once stated that “we delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty”. In fact, think of all the beauty that Nature has in stock for us. Consider how far we often disregard this gift and fail to enjoy the best around us. Assess how much labour and transformation goes on unseen so that we can profit from the privilege bestowed on us by that very same Nature. This could be the key to understand the amazing and unique artwork created by Michelle McKinney.

A U.K. artist who graduated from the Birmingham School of Jewellery, she started her creative career as a jewellery designer, having then evolved to the use of ultra-fine woven metal after having fallen in love with this unusual medium, which has led her to making larger-scale artworks, installations and sculptures that triggered a whole story of innovation.

In fact, Michelle McKinney brings wonder and awe to all those who have the privilege of gazing at her creations, by featuring symbols found in Nature through the innovative and ground-breaking use of contemporary industrial materials meticulously worked so as to elude their origin. She thereby dwells in the space between opposites, such as movement captured in stillness, the fragility and transiency of Nature seized in the durability of man-made, urban material, freedom trapped within the confinement of space.

McKinney’s ethereal installations of seeds, falling leaves and fluttering butterflies are painstakingly worked from hand-cut woven copper, brass or steel mesh, which is then manipulated, layer by layer, coloured and assembled to create unique multi-dimensional works, coloured so as to enhance the translucency of the medium used. Michelle McKinney actually acknowledges her fascination for translucency and all the potential offered by media which can offer this quality.

Taking advantage of her experience with the intricacy and detail of jewellery, she started treading a completely new direction in which she first explored the symbolism of butterflies, so adequate to illustrate the deep “contrast of the strength of the material – steel – and the delicacy and fragility of the subject matter” (her own words). In fact, butterflies being the ultimate and most beautiful symbol of unseen deep change, they could only become one of Michelle McKinney’s most cherished themes.

Having been inspired by the amazing book sculptures of Su Blackwell as she admits, Michelle McKinney´s artworks consistently convey the play between the timeless and the immediate, thereby giving sense to what another unknown author stated: “if nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies”.

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