Veil 1, suspended sculpture in woven copper, 350mm x 350 mm x 250 mm, 2016
Veil 2, suspended sculpture in woven brass and gold wire,
350mm x 350 mm x 250 mm, 2016
Veil 3, suspended sculpture in woven copper, 650 mm x 300 mm x 300 mm, 2016
Pieces of Me, x-ray lungs and bird, photographic print,
594 mm x 841 mm, 2016
Pieces of Me, bird and hands, photographic print, 594 mm x 841 mm, 2016
Pieces of Me, x-ray lungs and insects, photographic print,
594 mm x 841 mm, 2016
Pieces of Me, spine, suspended sculpture of copper, brass, and stainless steel, 650 mm x 300 mm x 300 mm, 2016
Pieces of Me, heart and moth, suspended sculpture, 1 m x 900m x 150 mm, 2016
My art is work of elegant simplicity, which in itself is the first of many seductions into a complex network of tensions. It is bedded in the clear space between opposites; the movement found in stillness; the fragility and ephemerality of nature captured in the strength and permanence of industrial, human-made materials; inexorable freedom within the clinically defined limitations of space. It is the dialogue that takes place between these polarities that engage so forcefully.
My current work explores such dualities in the context of the individual. Both the human form endowed with inescapable fragility and the human face weighed down by the burden of identity are dissected and reexamined, allowing us not only to interact with an inner world from the outside but, equally, to interact with an outer world from the inside. From both viewpoints we are asked to look at ourselves not “in relation to nature” but as “of nature.”
Undertaking this self-examination is no sentimental journey, however; nature’s latent cruelty and ephemerality are not avoided but confronted, and hidden aspects of ourselves are laid bare in often jarring and startling clarity. How we engage with this journey; how we strive to mask, redefine, or even deny our identity; how, at times, we attempt to flee the questions yet find ourselves viewing them from new angles are all issues that my work confronts. Yet, despite the challenges, the hope that we can find glimmers of beauty in our situations is never extinguished.
While using symbols from nature that have a timeless constancy, the methods and media I use are innovative applications of contemporary industrial materials so subtly handled that even the closest scrutiny gives almost no intimation of their origins. At the heart of my work is the play between the timeless and the immediate. However tranquil the order of the instant may seem, it cannot segregate itself from nature’s underlying chaos. It is into this engagement with chaos that we are lured, so unassumingly, by the captivating simplicity of order.
About the Artist
Michelle McKinney is a United Kingdom-based artist who works with ultra-fine woven metal. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in jewelry design and silver smithing from Birmingham School of Jewellery, she quickly realized that her artistic practice was leading her to create work on a much larger scale. Skills she learned during her studies — for example, the importance of attention to detail — and her knowledge of working with metal nevertheless remain very important aspects of her artistic practice today.
Michelle McKinney has created artworks for a number of high-profile clients, including The British Council, The Crafts Council, and The Royal Albert Memorial Museum. Most recently, Michelle McKinney collaborated with designer Issey Miyake.
Represented by Northcote Gallery, London, Michelle McKinney has exhibited in cities in many countries, including Paris, New York, Stockholm, and London. Her work resides in the permanent collection of The Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter.
In autumn 2017, Michelle McKinney plans a solo exhibition in the gallery space at Anthropologie, Kings Road, London.