The Mark Tanner Sculpture Award
John Wallbank is the 9th winner of the Mark Tanner Sculpture Award. He was selected as winner in 2009, the guest selector was Cornelia Parker.
John Wallbank makes ambitiously scaled installations and domestically scaled objects from complex combinations of abstracted and eviscerated material. All his pieces have a strong integral sense of drawing; a particular and eloquent line. New works incorporates sheaths or elements made from vaccum-formed perspex, its almost molten clarity glazing the contained form with a seductive smoothness.
In dealing with the act of making as a thing in itself rather than a means to obtaining a form or image, Wallbank’s objects act almost as stand-ins for, or approximations of, things that inhabit the world. Currently he is exploring the concept of the packable and unpackable, both in its practical applications and conceptually as a metaphor for the adaptability that modern living requires of all species, particularly humanity. He is concerned for that which is temporary, compact, multifunctional or reproducible in multiple situations.
Ultimately it is the act of translation as much as the source that interests Wallbank. What often results are samples or examples, suggestions of what is possible. Rather than a vocabulary of forms he develops vocabularies of making and function - containing, supporting, joining, decorating, displaying. The language employed operates in 2D and 3D concurrently - a line may be a saw cut, a bent wire or a sausage of clay. A single thread is woven into fabric, out of which complex 3 dimensional forms grow.
This coherence of Wallbank’s thinking, his language accruing through the metaphors and terminology of building into coherent phrases and sentences, is made apparent in his environments’ and objects’ machinic sense of urgency and purpose. Though static they appear designed to act.
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