Thursday April 19, 2018 | by Valerie Hughes

Playful glass goblet work takes top honors, $15,000 prize, at contemporary art competition in Australia.

The 2018 winner of the Art Gallery of Western Australia’s annual Tom Malone Prize is Tom Moore, who utilized 15th-century Venetian glassblowing techniques to create two whimsical puffer fish in a work entitled “Pyrotechnic Puffer Fish.” The Tom Malone Prize, now in its sixteenth year, highlights accomplishment and experimentation in Australian glass art with $15,000 in prize money. Moore’s “Pyrotechnic Puffer Fish” was one of sixty applicants and, as the winner, will be incorporated into the gallery’s State Art Collection, which houses works by other winners. Additionally, Moore’s work will be shown in the gallery’s annual Australian contemporary art exhibition alongside the thirteen short-listed artists, such as Holly Grace and Jason Sims, through May 28, 2018.

“Pyrotechnic Puffer Fish” came about after research turned up information about cabinets of curiosities. These Renaissance-era cabinets, also referred to as “cabinets of wonder,” held fantastical oddities and objects that transcended categories and struck Moore. Puffer fish were often seen in these cabinets, as well as male narwhals for their tusks, which drew allusions to unicorns. Judges for the prize loved “Pyrotechnic Puffer Fish” for its character and traditional roots, as well as “for seeming to come straight out of a dream.”

Since he was fifteen years old, Moore knew he wanted to work in glass art. He studied his craft at The Canberra School of Art around the time when the studio glass movement was beginning between Italian and American artists. Although Moore studied in Australia, his school communicated with American artists from the movement, thus granting him access to burgeoning knowledge about glass. This had a definitive influence on the way he developed his artistic style and technique.

Adapting traditional techniques to create visionary works of the modern day, Moore often uses cool-toned colors for his imaginative pieces, which are reminiscent of childhood’s limitless creativity. An idea that is prevalent in his works is the triumph of nature over industry, evidenced in “Massive Hooligans”, where large birds take up automobiles in their talons. More recently, he has come to embrace the incorporation of technology through digital photographers and animators. The combination of tangible art with digital animation invites broader interpretations and perspectives from viewers. Presently, Moore is attaining his PhD on the history of glass from the University of South Australia.

Last year’s Tom Malone Prize was granted to Perth-based artist, Marc Leib for his 2016 work, “Inner core.” From far away the work hides its opulence and upon closer inspection, there is strenuous and lively detail. Lieb was inspired by the Japanese idea lkigai, which means ‘reason for being.’ To realize one’s lkigai, one must immerse themselves in self-reflection and complex thought. The judges commended Leib for his “wonderfully accomplished work.”

The Tom Malone Prize began in 2003 thanks to the Governor of the Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, Elizabeth Moore and celebrated its fifteenth anniversary in 2017. The Prize continues due to support from the Foundation Benefactor, Sheryl Grimwood. The prize broadens the gallery’s collection and its knowledge of innovative artists in Australia.


Tom Moore, Joanna Bone, Benjamin Edols and Kathy Elliot, Judi Elliot, Holly Grace, Gerry King, Peter Kovacsy, Marc Leib, Jeremy Lepisto, Tom Moore, Nick Mount, Jason Sims, Blanche Tilden, and Kayo Yokoyama.
"Tom Malone Prize 2018"
Through May 28, 2018
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Perth Cultural Central Roe Street
Perth WA 6000, Australia
Tel: +61.894.926.600

GLASS: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for 35 years.