Jason Walker 'Tarantula'
An appreciation by Robin Dutt


By Jason Walker’s own admission, “nature is a great tutor, an endless source of inspiration in the way amazing, organic creativity is constantly balanced with outrageous equilibrium.”

His vocal efficacious eloquence is more than matched by the actuality of his designs – from drawing board inspiration to final, solid object. Curiously, perhaps, the observation and rendering of his designs are often partnered by a clearly humorous, even deliberately comic intent of which so many designers often steer clear.

This hugely individualistic streak combines with and subtly conceals a desire not to conform, a definite streak of mischief, an acknowledged, almost child-like wonder, specific purpose and a very real enjoyment and engagement. Of course it follows that someone so meticulous will also have specific views about his chosen materials, the ingredients of his work.

One of these materials about which he enthuses almost as if one might a lover, is aluminium. In many of Walker’s designs, there seems to be a conscious desire to incorporate a sense of movement – even if they are necessarily static. This love of movement of course has precedents,
such as the iconic egg chair suspended from a ceiling chain, so beloved in the sixties and by post-modernist chair designers such as Tom Dixon and Ron Arad.

Aluminium in melt and even mid-melt flow has a seductive, mobile quality by which Walker is clearly intoxicated. “There is nothing quite like seeing liquid aluminium. Its fluidity creates drama and sensuality and when it is spilt it shatters like freezing raindrops.”

With movement in mind, Walker’s template-drawings betray spring-like structures, elements of haphazard decoration in seemingly midcollapse, articulated bone-like vertebrae and much more, which can be traced to the artist’s time spent in Barcelona where he became familiar with the ground breaking iconic work of Antonio Gaudí. The playfulness, exuberance, colour and sheer peculiarity of shape seems for Walker,
a huge inspiration.

“You approach one of his buildings and they are mesmeric, they are beautiful”, says Walker. “They just sing out, they are jewels.”

The organic form of so much of Gaudí’s work hints at its direct connection with nature and so links in this way Walker’s own fascination and admiration of it. Gaudî’s outcroppings of colourful slabs, sheer rising, knobbly pinnacles and beehive, cell-like structures, or articulated scale-armature adorning many buildings, look bizarrely (as they were intended to do so from their inception) as if they are somehow growing.
Walker calls Barcelona which he first visited over 15 years ago an “effervescent city.”

So, it is not too much of a surprise to comprehend that his creation “Tarantula”, an imposing table and fourteen chairs, silky with the smooth seductiveness of his prized aluminium, the table on prone, semi-arched legs (almost ready to pounce), almost dagged upholstery fabric echoing almost, hair seems to have this quality of being able to move.

Instantly, of course, it is neither sculpture nor yet functional furniture but a winning combination of both and a clear indicator of his working process. At once, impressive and deliciously daunting, his spider has an interplanetary feel. Can this be a preserved arachnid – part organic, part machine and wholly cyber from another universe? Walker has instilled his piece with a certain narrative quality and the name he chose to give it is important. For, in the naming of things one can reveal intent and direct the reception if not to say, reaction. How might we have understood the piece had he called it, “Duchess?”

“The most macabre thing about it may be the name”, he opines, “but it was never based on a spider, or a tarantula. (But)…one of the points about it is that it is predatorial.”

“Creative ambitions” is the way Walker chooses to describe his work. With the creation of “Tarantula”, these ambitions seem hardly that but more accurately, actualities.

Robin Dutt
Author and Critic
London, March 2008




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