Caroline McGregor’s first solo exhibition with M Contemporary explores the intersection of mental space and physical space through a careful choreography in steel. Coming Home expresses material resolutions to the artist’s immaterial journeys. These are private works made public.
Working in a linear language, McGregor’s sculptures are informed by her long-spanning drawing practice, as black steel echoes charcoal in its ability to both ribbon around space and contain it. Embodying invitation, the artist’s work seeks to create the sensation of doorways and thresholds so that light, air, and others may feel welcome to move through the negatives of framed shape. The allure of passageways has been a constant in McGregor’s practice, whose large-scale sculptures border on the architectural.
Of great influence upon McGregor’s studio work are two seemingly separate moments in art history, Romanesque architecture, and American minimalism. Having had a sustained interest in the geometry and seriality of minimalist sculpture, it was not until the artist was awarded an opportunity to take up residency in Tuscany that she was moved to embrace the femininity of roundness characterised by Italy’s built environment. Her memory of the experience is marked by an overwhelming sensation evoked by the passage through ancient cathedrals. This has seen a transformation in McGregor’s work; whereby the viewer’s physical navigation of a sculpture is paramount. In her series Coming Home, it may be understood that McGregor’s primary interest has shifted from the sculptural object, to the sculptural encounter with this object.
Having experienced a period of tumult following a number of studio injuries, McGregor’s work is enriched with the resolution of a return. In an accomplishment of courage, this body of work has been created with and in confrontation of the machines involved in her harm. Grappling with the difficulty of great change in her personal life in the years leading up to this exhibition, the artist’s work can be observed through the lens of overcoming affliction. In her perseverance, she has strived to make steel feel soft and heavy forms light. She has sought to allow complexity to appear as simplicity, for the benefit of the one who is looking for the door into her work.
McGregor has a Master of Fine Art from the National Art School, Sydney, and exhibits in Sydney and Paris. McGregor has been awarded the John Valance Prize for Sculpture and has undertaken a number of artist residencies, both nationally and internationally. McGregor is represented in private collections across Australia and continues to live and work in the hinterlands of Byron Bay.
By Shannon Smith