Kate McSharry responds to the exhibition ‘Beasts’ by Katrīna Tračuma

Response to Katrīna Tračuma’s Beasts 20211 written by Kate McSharry, May 2021.

Which beasts are more equal than others?2 Captured in flight, fight, and others lazing still for a portrait. I’m having a peek in at one after their 14-hour working day, flopping on its back like we do after going through the motions. 

Who has true freedom? There is a cat that visits my granny’s back garden. We call him Worry Cat because his little eyebrows slant at a funny unmoving angle. Though I wonder what he has to be worried about – he waits for food on the smooth tiled ground, laps up attention, is free to go and knows he can come back. We’ll be waiting, ready, to pamper him as much as he allows.

Who decides who has power and control? Why is this wee fluffy bunny gazing into my soul! I challenged my authority over the crayture every time I ogled at it through glass pet shop panels, trying to convince mam or dad that I would absolutely clean up after her, like they cleaned up after me – was I ready to be an animal parent? Owner? Who Owns What?3

Are we bought, yes. Convinced, yes. Fat and full and relieved. The cows’ colours are like meat cuts, here they float and graze on air. Pull the wool over me eyes; thick warm wool that’s comforting but a lie. Barely escaping sharp teeth as we run. Running on that wheel, chasing things from this wheel. Always moving, turning, making – but for whom? Thank you for sacrificing your internal feelings.

Exposed and vulnerable, life begins and ends in a box. Destruction for roast dinners and bloating, the (life) cycle of Chicken Knickers.4 A hand from above manoeuvres our situations. An awakening, some form of creation, the consequences. Oh how I’d love to be a fly on the wall when the revolution of us domesticated animals kicks off.

We humans love looking at other humans; let’s replace all the portraits of people in galleries with studies of animals. A Mural, A Shrine? A Merging of the two? Who observes whom?

In Beasts, whose eyes are we looking into: the artist’s, the subject’s, our reflection?

A critical reflection: who are – what are – are we the beasts?


1. Beasts exhibition at Backwater Studio, Cork, April/May 2021. http://backwaterartists.ie/the-human-animal/beasts-katrina-tracuma/

2 Animal Farm, George Orwell, first published by Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd 1945.

3. Barbara Kruger’s Who Owns What?, photographic screenprint on vinyl, 2012. https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/kruger-who-owns-what-p80569

4. Sarah Lucas’ Chicken Knickers, photograph, 1997.  https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/lucas-chicken-knickers-p78210

Kate McSharry (b.1998, Dublin) is an emerging artist based in Galway City. Through her studies in Contemporary Art at the Centre for Creative Arts and Media at GMIT, Kate has been involved with TULCA Festival of Visual Arts as an intern, and in 2020 worked as an Education Assistant. Her work was recently included in a joint exhibition with Corban Walker at the Sarah Walker Gallery in Castletownbere, Cork. Upcoming exhibitions include an outdoor installation through July/August 2021 at Artlink, Fort Dunree, Donegal. 

Katrīna Tračuma is a multidisciplinary visual artist currently living and working in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The prevailing theme in the work of Katrīna Tračuma is humankind’s estrangement from nature, as viewed through the lens of our relationships with other species. The exhibition Beasts presents artwork made between 2016 and 2020. The work is political in nature and engages the viewer in philosophical considerations towards the daily acts of speciesism

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