21
Mar
10

Review: ‘Pondlurking’ by Tom Moore at Helen Gory Galerie, Prahran, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 10th March – 3rd April, 2010

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Many thankx to Nicola Stein and Helen Gory Galerie for allowing me to use the images below in the posting.

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Tom Moore ‘Pondlurking’ installation photographs at Helen Gory Galerie, Prahran

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My apologies to readers for the paucity of reviews of exhibitions in Melbourne recently. It is not that I haven’t been circulating around town to lots of exhibitions, far from it. The fact is that nothing has really rocked my boat, including my visit to a disappointing ‘New 010’ exhibition at ACCA, an exhibition redeemed only by the marvellous magnetic levitations of Susan Jacobs installation titled ‘Being under no illusion’ (2010). Compared to the wealth of interesting work in ‘New 09’, work that still resides in my consciousness, the art in the current exhibition seems bland, the work ultimately and easily forgettable (a case of conceptual constipation?). Even though the exhibition lauds the collaboration between artists, designers, curators, architects, trades people and the kitchen sink in the production of the work, nothing substantive or lasting emerges.

No such problem exists with the exhibition ‘Pondlurking’ by Tom Moore at Helen Gory Galerie in Prahran. Wow, this show is good!

It produced in me an elation, a sense of exalted happiness, a smile on my dial that was with me the rest of the day. The installation features elegantly naive cardboard cityscape dioramas teeming with wondrous, whimsical mythological animals that traverse pond and undulating road. This bestiary of animals, minerals and vegetables (bestiaries were made popular in the Middle Ages in illustrated volumes that described various animals, birds and even rocks) is totally delightful. In the text ‘Moving Right Along’ the curator Julie Ewington notes connections in Moore’s work to the ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’ by Hieronymus Bosch, the porcelain monkey orchestras of Miessen, parti-coloured hose of Medieval costume, the animals from Dr Suess’s books for children and Venetian glass figurines to name but a few. Another curator Geoffrey Edwards notes Moore’s accomplished technical skill in glass making, his use of lattice and trellis work in the figures themselves, namely the use of vetro a fili (broadly spaced) and vetro a retorti (twisted spiral) glass cane patterns.

While all of this is true what really stands out is the presence of these objects, their joyousness. The technical and conceptual never get in the way of good art. The Surrealist imagining of a new world order (the destruction of traditional taxonomies) takes place while balanced on one foot (see the installation image at the top of the page). The morphogenesis of these creatures, as they build one upon another, turns the world upside down (as in ‘Web Feet Duck Bum’ below). Multi-eyed potato cars, ducks with eyes wearing high heeled boots and three-legged devouring creatures segue from one state, condition, situation or element to another in a fluid condition of becoming. This morphogenesis is aided and abetted by the inherent fluidity of the glass medium itself skilfully used by Moore in the construction of his creatures. While the photographs below isolate the creatures within a contextless environment it is when the creatures are placed within the constructed environment so skilfully created by Moore that they come alive.

The interconnectedness of this fantastical world (the intertextual relationship of earth, water, air, life) seeks to break down the binaries of existence – good/bad, normal/mutation, presence/absence  – until something else (e)merges. Through their metamorphosed presence in a carnivalesque world that is both weird and the wonderful, Moore’s creatures invite us to look at ourselves and our landscape more kindly, more openly and with a greater generosity of spirit.

Not to be missed!

Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Tom Moore
‘Stylish Car’
2008

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Tom Moore
‘Birdboat with passenger with a vengeance’ (left) and ‘Robot Island’ (right)
2010 and 2009

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“A candy striped fish pokes its head up, all lipstick-pink kissable lips as a voyaging duck sprouts tree-masts and becomes duck-ship-island captained by a lone gherkin boy. Delinquent birds rampage while a crested birdcar peacefully unfurls sweet green shoots. A cardboard city burns and there’s something odd lurking in the pond, metallic and curiously tuberous, it regards it all with a wary eye.

There’s a whole world at play here. Growing, flying and always moving, this isn’t ours turned upside down but something other, a unique universe bound together with a logic entirely its own. Tubers take to the air, birds grow wheels and everything overflows with energy, pushing out green tendrils toward each other.

Tom Moore’s gloriously appealing glass creatures spring from his own fantastical imagination and the rich seabeds of the mythical, imaginary and grotesque. From mediaeval bestiaries with their camel leopards and manticores, to misericord creatures through Lear and Seuss to Moore’s reimagining of an Colonial Australian epergne as a verdantly plumed robot bird with resplendent palm tree, his creatures reuse, recycle and recombine in their never ending metamorphoses.

There’s an irrepressible joyousness in these creatures constant flux as they burst the boundaries of animal/vegetable/mineral and do away with taxonomies and rationality, reinventing themselves in happy disregard of all humanity’s rules.

While lurking seems antithetical to all this busy-ness, to skylarking fatbirds and peripatetic potatoes, the will to knowledge at the core of all lurking is what propels this endless becoming. This insatiable urge to simply find out is the engine of this prolific universe. As duck becomes island and man becomes bird, Moore’s creatures ask an eternal ‘what if?’ and an insouciant ‘why not?’

This transformative energy inheres in the material itself, in the mutable and alchemical nature of glass, in the fusing and melding of forms as light is captured within and bounces off lustrous surfaces. As glass flows through its changeable states, like water, like rain, so do Moore’s folk transform and evolve.

It’s this continuous moving through forms that hints at other meanings. Sharing forms, being made as it were, of each other and sharing an essential nature, each creature reaches out to every other in a net of relations in an intricately connected universe. These deep bonds, seen in their loving regard for each other speak of the delicate structures and balance of ecosystems and an absolutely necessary attention to and care for the world.

For there are no humans here and it seems that it’s this carelessness, this lack of attention to the fragile connections between the world and its creatures that’s the reason. The cities burn and cars rightfully become compost.

This riotous parade has pulled the artist too into their exuberant tumble. Becoming man-bird and greeting the day with a drumming bird song he is the harbinger perhaps of a new order, one bright green and sparkling.”

Jemima Kemp, 2010

Press release from the Helen Gory Galerie website

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Tom Moore
‘Web Feet Duck Bum’
2009

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Tom Moore
‘Tasty Eyes With Five Friends’
2007

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Tom Moore
‘Snarsenvorg the Devourer’
2008

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Tom Moore
‘Segway’
2009

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Tom Moore
‘Tree-Feet, Dollbird’
2008

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Helen Gory Galerie
25, St. Edmonds Road,
Prahran, Vic 3181

Opening hours: Wed – Fri 11 – 5pm, Sat 10 – 4pm

Helen Gory Galerie website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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