It’s a parallel universe, in which a dinosaur and a car can happily co-exist, and nature has long triumphed over industry.
And it’s been captured in hot blown glass under a large and delicate bell jar, to take out this year’s prestigious $15,000 Ranamok Glass Prize.
Canberra-born artist Tom Moore said his winning work, the whimsical and multi-faceted Massive Microscopic Bud, was his most ambitious piece yet.
“This is one of the most complicated and ambitious objects that I have ever made, for sure, but it is definitely very much within the world that I am creating in my whole practice,” he said.
The glass bell jar took a team of five people many hours to perfect, before he was able to assemble various blown-glass objects – plants, a car and a bird with the skull of a triceratops – inside it.
“It entertains a few of my interests, which are a kind of idea where in a parallel universe, maybe everything is alive and awake and curious. Even the car has eyes,” he said.
“But there’s a sense in which nature is triumphant over industry, and there’s also this idea of very ancient things, so the reference to the triceratops and also modern things like cars coexisting in some weird other world.”
Moore grew up in Canberra and trained at the ANU School of Art in 1990s, before moving to Adelaide, where he has worked at the Jam Factory Craft and Design Centre for the past 12 years.
Judge Brian Parkes, who is chief executive of the Jam Factory, said Moore’s work stood out from the 21 finalists because it appealed on so many levels.
“For people that know and love glass, they will see technical virtuosity that is almost unparalleled in this country,” he said.
“For people that know nothing about glass, they’ll be impressed by the wondrousness of the creation. Because it uses humour and wit in a refreshing way, it’s accessible to the broadest audience. But also, for a serious art audience, you can start to unpack the work and it’s full of layers and interesting references.”
Moore said he planned to use the prize money to prepare to show his work overseas.
“Freighting that kind of work is very tricky and expensive… I do work with a lot of assistants and the process of blowing glass is very expensive, so it’s really very timely that I have this windfall because I have quite a few costs coming up in relation to showing work internationally,” he said.
“It’s a great acknowledgement that I have a place amongst my very well respected peers. The list of the previous winners is like this sort of stellar cast that I’m very proud to be associated with, and so it’s very pleasing. It just is a very nice acknowledgment that I’ve done something right!”
Works by the 21 Ranamok finalists will be on display at the Canberra Glassworks until September 12, after which they will tour nationally.