Max Tannahill is from Bangor, Co.Down, in the north of Ireland. He travelled to Australia where exposure to the work of aboriginal artists left a deep impression. Max returned to England in 1989 to study bookbinding for two years and it was during this period, living in the Essex coastal village of Wivenhoe, that he started carving his unique fish from the plentiful supply of driftwood gleaned from the shoreline and estuaries nearby.

Artist statement

"Finding material entails a lot of walking along shorelines here in Essex and abroad. I have brought stuff home from the west coast of Ireland to southern Italy to use in my work. Utilizing old boat material is something I find particularly satisfying, it gives it another chance. The old paint, copper roves, the years of boat building skills are all embodied in the pieces. I do buy wood as well. I use slow grown Douglas fir from Canada.
"I admire the naive style of Alfred Wallis, the block colour of Paul Gauguin and a thousand other artists and sculptors I have looked at, but don't necessarily draw anything from them in a conscious manner, like Henry Moore or Elizabeth Frink and Francis Bacon. My time in Australia and observing a great amount of sculpture by aboriginal artists was an eye opener. I realised that things that items which appear relatively simple in form are actually extremely considered pieces of work and have taken years of development. My own work has been developing over nearly thirty years and I do enjoy that aspect."


Max Tannahill's sculptures vary enormously in size from small individual flat fish to 4 metre long installations of shoals of fish swimming alongside boat remnants. Lead and copper are sometimes incorporated into the fish he creates. His world is essentially simple; imagined, and governed to a large extent by the constraints of the material.


Send me more information on Max Tannahill

Please fill in the fields marked with an asterisk