Tom Moore is fascinated with hybridity, mutation and our environment. Plant–birds, tree–cars, flaming pickles and potato–fish merge the animal, mineral and vegetable worlds. They charm us, but also reveal a world at risk. Like the marvellous metamorphic objects crafted by hand and by nature in the sixteenth-century Wunderkammer, Tom Moore’s sculptures often appear to be one thing, but are really another.

Tom Moore was born in 1971 in Canberra, Australia. He started working with glass in his late teens and graduated from Canberra School of Art, Australian National University, in 1994. Moore trained in production techniques at JamFactory until 1997 and worked as Production Manager in the JamFactory's glass studio for fifteen years. In 2019, Moore was awarded a PhD from the University of South Australia for his thesis 'Agents of Incongruity: Glassmaking embraces nonsense to navigate monsters, wonder and dread'.

  • List all of the components – animal, human or vegetable – you can see in Tom Moore’s work. Sketch your favourite of these quickly to capture its shape.
  • Using the key words provided, craft a sentence about Moore’s work. Take turns around the room with each student reading aloud their sentence. Word list: composition, proportion, surface, hybrid, metamorphosis, humour, texture balance, scale, proportion and positive and negative space.
  • In 2014, Ian Strange exhibited his work Landed in the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art. Located on North Terrace, this work consisted of an entire house constructed to look as though it had landed from outer space. Find examples of this work and public responses to it. In 2016, Moore’s Magnified Planktonic Self adorns the front of the Gallery. Unlike Landed, Moore's work was soft and light-hearted and was made initially as a drawing, then blown and hot-worked in glass, before a perverse reversal into an enormous inflatable plastic sculpture. Compare the two works. In groups brainstorm what makes a successful public sculpture.
    • Stage a debate in your class arguing the pros and cons for public sculpture.
    • Imagine a world where there is no public art. Describe how this would impact on communities.
    • Consider a site anywhere in the world that would benefit from a work of public art. Describe what the work would look like and the impact that it would have.
    • Using the Adelaide City Council Public Art guidelines as a case study, research what is required when designing, developing and installing public art. Share your research with your class and together discuss the prominent public art in Adelaide. You may wish to begin with Bert Flugelmann’s Spheres in Rundle Mall.
  • Play the Surrealist exquisite corps game, whereby you make a drawing and conceal it before passing the paper to a friend for them to continue. Once the page is full, open the drawing and identify its animal, mineral or vegetable components.
  • Place a collection of random words in a hat. You may choose to select words inspired by Moore’s sculptures. Choose three words each and use these as initial prompts for a collage or drawing.
  • South Australia has four marine parks designed to protect animals, plants and their habitats. In 2014 the South Australian Government implemented fishing restrictions in sanctuary zones to help to protect breeding grounds. Research the plants and animals that exist in our local environment. Select five features from these animals and create a new hybrid species using either clay or found materials. Display your sculptures in a classroom.
  • Imagine you have been selected to create a temporary work for North Terrace. Consider who you will need to help you, the best materials to use and how your work will sit in the context of the existing buildings.
    • Begin by:
      • Researching other examples of public art.
      • Completing a series of thumbnail sketches that include the dominant architecture on the site and consider scale and proportion.
      • Creating either a 3D maquette or 2D
      • Photoshop mock-up of your work.
Lavish Gnashing

Tom Moore, born Canberra 1971, Lavish Gnashing, 2021, Adelaide, blown glass, 68.0 x 21.0 x 21.0 cm; In memory of Jane Yuile, Art Gallery Board member (2014-2023), through the South Australian Artists Fund 2023, Art Gallery of South Australia, © Tom Moore.

Lavish Gnashing

Lavish Gnashing expands upon the ancient traditions of elaborate, and sometimes comical, representational glass vessel production. Informed by his scholarship and consistent with his bestiary of playful vitreous figures, the central figure walks a fine line between eccentricity and technical rigour. In Moore’s words ‘it delights in the serious dedication that is necessary for making intricately patterned glass, together with an irreconcilable, off-kilter absurdity’.

The morphologies of Moore’s creations know few limitations due to their maker’s skill in hot working glass and his overactive imagination. As both a vessel-maker and sculptor, Moore is most interested in objects that bridge these two realms. He also references the history of European art and collections, drawing specifically on the rich history of the Wunderkammer as a site of metamorphic transformation. In Lavish Gnashing Moore simultaneously subverts Venetian glass traditions and references the Renaissance penchant for miraculous objects crafted from precious metals, minerals and the wonders of nature. Sporting red coral, ostrich eggs and gold, these prized objects found their inheritance in South Australia in the nineteenth century through the production of playful epergne by esteemed makers including Johann Heinrich Steiner and Julius Schomburgk who worked with emu eggs, silver and malachite, the antipodean equivalents of northern wonders. The title of the work, Lavish Gnashing, can be loosely understood to reference an idea of luxurious anxiety, signalling the artist’s ecological concerns.

Dr Lisa Slade, Assistant Director Artistic Programs

Activities below creates by Dr. Tom Moore

Tom Moore, born Canberra 1971, Lavish Gnashing, 2021, Adelaide, blown glass, 68.0 x 21.0 x 21.0 cm; In memory of Jane Yuile, Art Gallery Board member (2014-2023), through the South Australian Artists Fund 2023, Art Gallery of South Australia, © Tom Moore.

It is amazing how a slight change in the positioning of a facial features can alter a portrait. Use Tom's Spare Part handouts as away exploring this phenomenon. Cut out the features and experiment with creating three different faces using the same elements - try placing eyes close together, further apart or indifferent angles. Glue down your features when you are happy with your three faces.

Draw a different face shape and glue a selection of spare parts to create a character. You may also find some elements in magazines to add to your work of art.

Spare Parts 1

Spare Parts 2

Spare Parts 3

Photo: Tom Moore.

  • Provide each student with six cards to draw on (approx. 6x6cm).
  • On three separate cards, draw a quick, simple sketch. One animal, one plant thing and one thing made by humans. For example: a fish, a potato and a car. 5 minutes total maximum but quicker is better.
  • Keep one of your elements and put 2 into a hat. Shuffle the class collection of cards and take two randomly.
  • On a fourth card draw a sketch that combines all three elements. For example: a PotatoFishCar.
  • When you are done have a look at all the drawings by everybody.
  • Have another go with two different cards.

Extension

Provide students with 26 cards. For each card student are to draw an element for each letter of the alphabet, alternating between animal, plant and human made. Students can then swap cards with others or keep their set to select three at random to create a sketch that combines three elements. Use these quick sketches as the preparation for a larger painting or drawing.

Potato fish car activity