Banner image: 'Untitled' (2000); day-glo pink paint, pre-existing concrete monolith


Affiliation with Shape: Winner of 2017 Adam Reynolds Memorial Bursary, exhibiting artist in ARMB Shortlist 8, solo show 'Dog Basket Baboon' with Shape at Artlink Hull

Artist Statement

Oliver MacDonald is a sculptor, predominantly working in the field of large scale works and installations. Trained in traditional crafts such as basket-weaving and wood carving, MacDonald’s practice is to collect visually interesting debris and create works by pairing them with modes of making.

"I appropriate discarded, disposable, and disparate ready-made objects and re-contextualise them to disrupt the preconceptions we hold about the potential of particular objects. Subsequently, questions around methods of making and their worth arise; which has more value, the physical skill of the artisan or the cerebral skill of the conceptualist? Who assigns the value?"

 ‘Untitled'; ice cream van, willow, metal. Image c. Ivan Coleman

MacDonald often explores the act of skilled craftsmanship through a conceptual lens, exploring and interpolating issues around disability and the art world that this pairing offers; ideas such as, exclusion, pointlessness, obsolescence, and reverence often arise. MacDonald subverts the usual end point in the creation of objects, using the techniques of skilled craftsmanship – traditionally used to make practical, usable objects – to instead create art pieces that are to be observed visually rather than operational. Lately MacDonald have become particularly focused on basket weaving as a process with which to investigate and create works around these subjects.

 No Accommodation At The England'No Accommodation At The England' (2007); soft toys, found storage vessels, wood, rope

MacDonald’s work often incorporates children’s toys and other accoutrements that allude to innocence and simplicity. There is a mode of playfulness found in his arrangement of objects that seems to conflict with the seriousness of the issues dealt with. The word-play in the work’s titles is often a key aspect, used to draw attention to the pithy realism he aim to articulate. ‘Play’ has become a regular theme of MacDonald’s work as he is interested in the tension this creates when used to address darker, adult themes.

Click here to view all Shape artist profiles