Fragments of absence – Oliver Tanner’s sculptures.

Sophisticated use of moulding, welding and assembly yields detailed, evocative pieces that are at once abstract and familiar

27 Apr 2012

Mentored by Sydney metal sculptor Bronwyn Oliver and informed by the works of Antony Gormley and Henry Moore, Oliver Tanner takes our recognition of the human form and layers it with unexpected textures, motifs and empty spaces.

A recent graduate from the National Arts School, Sydney, Oliver has developed his mastery of metalworking techniques working at Crawford’s Casting, one of Sydney’s fine art foundries. “It’s a pity that in this day and age it is increasingly hard to come by the opportunity to learn to work with your hands” he says, “so much great art and design is born out of understanding and mastering one’s medium, I think it is a loss that many students now only learn the theory and not the practice.”

Hi current collection of works explores the human figure: he comments that “taking [it] and pushing it to abstraction through various mediums of cast pewter or welded copper or steel allows the audience to see the figure as a whole while the abstract pattern of the detail operates on another level”. In particular he has focused on combining casting with welding to create his pieces, elaborating that “in my use of pewter in particular I utilize the ability to easily cast multiple pieces, such as leaves or other objects, and use them to assemble a larger, more complex object”. He adds, “It is this ability to treat the metal as a malleable, plastic form that gives me opportunities to try multiple options, adding and subtracting freely what is limited in other sculptural techniques.”

Oliver Tanner‘s works are on exhibition at Brenda May Gallery until May 5.

Photography: Justin Alexander