Foxton, Leicester, United Kingdom
sculpture in hand cut translucent woven metal
Michelle McKinney is an English artist working in the unusual medium of woven metal: stainless steel, copper and brass. Michelle’s art is work of elegant simplicity which, in itself, is the first of many seductions into an engagement with a complex network of tensions. The work is bedded in the clear space between opposites; the movement captured in stillness; the fragility and ephemerality of nature captured in the strength and permanence of industrial, man 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.
Whilst utilising symbols found in nature that have a timeless constancy, the methods and media used are innovative applications of contemporary industrial materials subtly handled so that even the closest scrutiny give almost no intimation of their origins. This play between the timeless and the immediate is at the heart of Michelle’s work. However tranquil the order of the instant may seem it cannot segregate itself from the underlying chaos of nature and it is into this engagement with chaos that we are lured, so unassumingly, by the captivating simplicity of order.
Michelle’s technique is rooted in her jewelry background. She completed her studies in 1998 in Silversmithing and Jewellery Design University of Central England. Each of her hand-crafted works of art is composed of metal meticulously cut into nature-inspired elements, such as soaring birds and scattered leaves. Once the artist has achieved her desired forms, she hand-dyes each translucent piece using a neutral and natural color palette. Finally, she organizes the pieces into unique compositions, spanning symmetrical rings, askew arrangements, and seemingly arbitrary piles.
Michelle has undertaken a number of high profile commissions with clients including The British Council, The Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, The Dorchester Hotel Group.
“My work is also very much inspired by the forms and rhythms of nature and a desire to capture its beauty and hold it in time. I am very interested in capturing a sense of movement in my work but, at the same time, by pinning each leaf or seed, I am controlling and holding each element in stillness. The contrast between subject matter and materials is also an important theme for me in reflecting the contrasts of strength and fragility – for example, a translucent butterfly wing created in stainless steel, an industrial material.”