Native Americans and Peruvians have relied on feathers as a mainstay in making art since ancient times. Now, a host of artists working in the UK including Kate MccGwire, Polly Morgan and Bouke de Vries, have alighted on feathers to create works of startling beauty. Using her signature medium of exotic feathers, and inspired by ritual pieces from the Andes and Hawaii, George Taylor’s new show Intimate Immensity (March 7-April 14) at Pangolin London presents works combining natural materials with complex optical designs and sumptuous iridescent colour. The effect Taylor achieves is one of Bridget Riley-like illusionism, expressed in animal plumes sourced from birds that have died naturally or from Victorian taxidermy collections.
At the core is Taylor’s investigation into the cycle of life and death, and nirvana reached through “the little death” of sexual orgasm or the act of dying itself. Taylor’s quest led her to adopt the term “intimate immensity” coined by the late French philosopher Gaston Bachelard in his 1958 work The Poetics of Space.
A highlight of the show is the 2m work The Beast in Me (£100,000), made in 2016-17. Created from glistening cockerel and crow feathers, it evokes a slightly sinister yet sensual quality. Other standout pieces include Erotica: Return to Chaos (£50,000) from 2016, made of golden pheasant and kingfisher feathers; and a trio of wave-like chequered works, La Bête 1975, Perineum and Fecund (£42,000 each), all designed with cockerel, swan and kingfisher feathers. Conjuring images of ancient Aztec shields are two works, Effusions and So Close You Forgot I Was There (£10,000 each); while Beauty’s Magic Trick (£17,500), a circular box of blown quails eggs, forms mesmeric geometric patterns the more one scrutinises it.
A new film featuring Taylor, called Innocent Potency, will also be screened for the first time at the exhibition. Underscoring the themes of the show it interweaves imagery of an innocent yet sexually charged pillow fight with Cuban cockfighting rituals.