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The Mark Tanner Sculpture Award

Dean Kenning

Mark Tanner Sculpture Award Winner 2020-21

We are delighted to announce that Dean Kenning (b.1972 Hounslow, UK) has won the 2020-21 Mark Tanner Sculpture Award. Kenning wins £8,000 towards the production of new work over the coming year, a solo exhibition at Standpoint in 2021 followed by a National Touring Programme.

Kenning was selected from 220 applicants from across the UK by a panel comprising: Anne Hardy, artist; Sam Thorne, Director, Nottingham Contemporary; Rebecca Scott, artist and Mark Tanner Trust; and Olivia Bax, winner of the MTSA 2019-20.

Kenning makes kinetic and sound sculptures, as well as videos and diagrams often with sculptural elements. His work is produced through hands-on material and process-based experimentation and in the spirit of DIY problem solving. He uses materials like silicone and wax to suggest organs, skin and bodies, and he utilises motors and re-engineers obsolete technology to make things ‘come to life’.

Kenning’s aim is to engender visceral, uncanny and humorous encounters through the expression and exploration of biological, psychological, political and philosophical themes. The focus on getting kinetic sculptures literally to ‘work’ (consistently) forces and enables Kenning to relegate formal-compositional judgement, to relinquish absolute authorial control and so open up to contingency.

There was an extremely strong shortlist of eight artists selected for interview. Shortlisted artists were Lauren Godfrey, Madeleine Pledge, Laurence Owen, Liam Fallon, Jon Kipps, Victoria Helena Mihatovic and Paloma Proudfoot.

The prestigious award is going ahead despite the Covid-19 outbreak. The exhibition for last year’s winner, Olivia Bax, will be postponed to later this year.

Kenning studied PhD ‘The Political Nature of Art Today’ at London Consortium, University of London (awarded 2008); MA in European Literature, Culture and Thought at QMC, University of London (1999–2001); and BA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College (1994–1997). Recent solo exhibitions include: Psychobotanical, Matts Gallery, London (2019), The Origin of Life, Beaconsfield, London (2019), Where It Was, Piper Keys [Supported by The Elephant Trust] (2018), Commonism, Five Years, London (2010), The Dulwich Horror: HP Lovecraft and the Crisis in British Housing, Space Station Sixty-Five, London (2007). Recent group exhibitions include Bergen Assembly (Capital Drawing Group) (2019); Sick Monday, Horse Hospital (2019); Morphologies of Invisible Agents, Space Studios (2019); P is for Portrait, Art House, University of Worcester (2019); Faust Fest, Turin (2018); Sick Monday, Genesis Cinema and Deptford Cinema, London & CCA, Glasgow (2018), Work Work, Tintype, London (2017).

Above image: Dean Kenning, ‘The Origin of Life’, mixed media kinetic sound installation, 2019. Courtesy of the Artist and Beaconsfield Gallery. Photo Joseph Walsh