Gallery Visit: Liz McGowan

The spirit wraps around me: nature as a second skin, 12 June - 25 August
August 12, 2022
Liz McGowan traversing the River Nar wearing one of her cloaks, detail of a photograph by Harry Cory Wright
Liz McGowan traversing the River Nar wearing one of her cloaks, detail of a photograph by Harry Cory Wright
  • What would it be like to experience a deep sensual immersion in the world around us?
  • Supposing, instead of walking on a footpath or a beach, we were walking in, or inside an ever changing kaleidoscope of texture, colour, light and process...
  • Supposing we were literally cloaked in our surroundings...

Liz McGowan explores these ideas through her creative collaboration with the detail, patterns and processes of landscape, calling attention to a continual multi-sensual exchange with our surroundings.

This body of work, exhibited at Stapleford Granary, includes cloaks, sculpture and earth works.Each cloak is made with materials from a specific habitat in Norfolk - tideline, reed bed, saltmarsh, river and barley field. 'Cloak' is a concept that we usually only apply to our clothes, regarding them as an extension of ourselves.

In reality we are constantly immersed in a multi-sensual exchange with our surroundings.
McGowan describes the cloak as 'mediating between the human body and the landscape it emerges from. It’s an invitation to immerse oneself in the more than human world, like plunging into cold water.'

Alongside the cloaks, the exhibition includes several of McGowan's Chthon earth works. Chthon is one of several Greek words for 'earth’ referring specifically to that which is under the earth. In English, ‘chthonic’ describes deities or spirits of the underworld. These works are the result of playing with saltmarsh mud in liquid and solid form, to create patterns and sculptures, exploring what it does and how it moves.

McGowan writes: 'At the same time this activity links in to a chthonic energy – raw, earthy – a planet in crisis meeting an inner, empathetic roar.'

Liz McGowan, The spirit wraps around me: nature as a second skin
From 12 June – 25 August 2022
Open Mondays - Fridays 8.30am - 4pm,Saturdays 8.30am - 3pm and Sunday 9am - 2pm

Stapleford Granary, Bury Road, Stapleford, Cambridge, CB22 5BP

Check opening times on the day as the exhibition takes place in a series of meeting rooms and performance spaces, and they are sometimes being used for other events.

About the author

Paul Barratt, Director and Curator at Contemporary and Country

Paul Barratt

Paul Barratt started working in contemporary art galleries in 1989, having graduated in Fine Art from Goldmsith’s, London University. He initially worked at Anthony d’Offay Gallery, one of the contemporary art dealers, who dominated the London art market in the 80s and 90s. He was approached by the Lisson Gallery to be gallery manager for the influential art dealer Nicholas Logsdail. This was followed by a short period in New York at Gladstone Gallery, to work for visionary art dealer Barbara Gladstone, working with the artist and filmmaker Matthew Barney.


On his return to London, Paul secured a place on the postgraduate curatorial course at the Royal College of Art, to complete an MA. After graduation in 2001, he worked as an independent curator on several projects in Oslo, London, Brighton and Basel, before joining Paul Vater at his design agency Sugarfree in 2004. He has worked with Paul ever since.