Kathy McCarthy makes sculptures in a variety of materials including clay, jesmonite, fiberglass and wood. She says, “The physicality of materials and making objects has increasingly yet slowly grown more important to me. Whether it is clay with its malleable and slippery texture or fibreglass with its strength and rigid texture, I struggle, tear apart, stick and rebuild to invent a place where only these materials can belong.”
Playful and transmutative, MacCarthy’s sculptures take on new meaning, offering themselves as fleshy life-forms that almost undulate with energy. Sometimes juxtaposed with hard-edged structures, these formless anthropomorphic masses look as if they are heaving themselves in and out of wooden frames, on top of plinths, swelling and squeezing into cracks and crevices. They manifest MacCarthy’s interest in the everyday world around her, charting the nooks and crannies that form the physical world and everything in between.
Her drawings are starting-points for her sculpture, serving as both practical blue-prints and a tool for contemplation. Questioning the relationship between interior and exterior landscape, MacCarthy presents work that distorts and mutates our perception of real-world subjects. 'Propped Sky' is one such work, in which MacCarthy playfully renders the sky as a tactile ripple of blue, held up by a black horizon. In other works, the outdoors are brought indoors- trees, mountain-tops and chimney stacks become malleable, abstracted versions of themselves, scaled down to form part of this topsy-turvy world.
The theme of exterior vs interior continues with the use of cages. Enclosing, trapping and confining her subjects, MacCarthy probes ideas about space- its vastness and how it can be interrupted, enclosed- and in doing so, makes us look at things in a different way.
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