04/04/2018 - 09:15

History and humour triumph in Tom Malone Prize

04/04/2018 - 09:15

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Adelaide-based Tom Moore has won one of the nation's most prestigious glass art awards from the Art Gallery of WA, with a work he says references quizzical historical applications of glass for comedic effect.

History and humour triumph in Tom Malone Prize
Tom Moore with his Pyrotechnic puffer fish 2016, created with reference to the history of blown glass. Photo: Grant Hancock

Adelaide-based  Tom Moore has won one of the nation's most prestigious glass art awards from the Art Gallery of WA, with a work he says references quizzical historical applications of glass for comedic effect.

It’s the second time Mr Moore has received AGWA's Tom Malone Prize, following his win in 2013.

He told Business News the award, now in its 16th year, attracted entries from most of the nation’s top glass artists.

In addition to the $15,000 in prize money, the winning artist receives widespread recognition from his/her peers, and a placement for their work in the WA State Art Collection.

“The prize itself is a really strong acknowledgement of the significance of glass in Australia, and Australia is renowned internationally for the quality of its glasswork,” Mr Moore said.

Mr Moore won this year for his Pyrotechnic puffer fish piece (pictured), which references a time when glass was used to create humorous drinking vessels and when glass blowers worked with alchemists to create vessels that shattered if touched with poison.

“In terms of my thematic interest, I’m drawn to humour and imagery that blurs the boundary between people, plants, animals, machines or other objects,” he said.

Mr Moore graduated from the Canberra School of Art Glass workshop in 1994 and worked as the production manager for glass craft training organisation, the Jam Factory, for 15 years until 2016.

He is now undertaking a PhD in practice-based research writing, detailing the glass creatures he creates, their glass-based history, and the processes involved.

“I’ve been doing research recently about historical connections between glass blowers and alchemists and the kind of objects that are in collecting cabinets in Europe; they’re called ‘cabinets of curiosity,’ Mr Moore said.

He said glass drinking vessels used to amuse people were often included in the cabinets, along with preserved puffer fish, while the white funnel aspects of his art reminded him of alchemical lab-wear made in the 16th century.

Combining the alchemical glass funnel, designed to prevent its owner from poisoning, with the toxic puffer fish is a comical reference typical of Mr Moore’s style.

“It’s pleasing for me that there are now objects in that (Tom Malone) collection that references the goblet; I think it’s such a fundamental form for the history of glass,” Mr Moore said.

The Tom Malone Prize judges said Mr Moore was arguably the country’s most consistently humorous and ‘out-there’ glass artist.

They said his Pyrotechnic puffer fish was like nothing they’d seen before.

“We love it for its detail, its evidence of glass mastery, its straight-faced hilarity, dazzling technical spirit, and, above all, for seeming to come straight out of a dream as most of Tom’s creatures do,” the judges said.

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