Month: May 2015

Coventry University degree show is full of art but has painting gone out of style?

Where have all the painters gone? That was what I was left wondering after visiting the Coventry University annual art degree show last night.

Over several floors, graduates showed their skills, from Foundation students fittingly in the basement to graphic design, illustration and fine art. It’s on the top floor where most of the paintings are usually to be found, and there were some, but not as many as expected. It’s a national trend according to a locally-based painter I spoke to later. The opening night seemed quieter than normal but on the plus side, there was a welcome return of lots of (cheap) free wine stations.

But anyway, what’s good to see about the degree show 2015, which continues in the Coventry University Graham Sutherland building on the corner of Gosford Street and Cox Street until Thursday. Photography is also only up the road in the Lanchester Gallery and Glass Box Gallery.

The Foundation students’ work seemed more interesting and better produced than I’ve seen for years, and is definitely worth a visit. Georgiana Irina Catana’s animation entitled Everything Remains Possible, with a little stuffed creature seemingly playing the piano was entertaining, and Tolu Olubrade’s Autonomic brought order to a china animal collection.

Rohanie Campbell-Thakoodun’s use of a polling box type device where people can confess a secret or confide their sorrows, and then shred it, was inventive, and Harjinder Rahore’s painting machine, using bicycle parts to create splattered T shirts was also fun. Testa Joseph’s Restriction in Freedom photographs combined bondage and fashion and Testa is off to Central St Martin’s next year to study fashion design. It’s always worth remembering George Shaw did his foundation year here before moving on.

Also on the ground floor, graduates who’ve created larger more sculptural items are showing. Myah V K Sahota has taken traditional pinafore designs and stitched them with more feminist slogans. Marc Evans was in a separate room and had the best hair of the night, possibly helped by taking a head set on and off again and trying to persuade other people to use it to literally light up the room with the power of their minds.

On the top floor, Camille Louise combined natural objects such as driftwood with weaved wool, and had a room full of sand with paint-splashed walls. Bethany Dartnell’s tiny and detailed drawings of flats in Birmingham were also interesting.

Muziwethu Nduma’s paintings were my favourite of the night, showing in a colourful, direct painting style, parts of Coventry that have become home, including a bus pulling into nearby Cox Street. The image in KFC was particularly arresting, the customer faceless with their back to the door and the two staff equally so, blocked by the customer or items.

I counted three people writing that their inspirations had included Tracey Emin, and one of them was Peige Smith, whose room had a parental guidance warning. In the corner one latex model of several penises dripped a white fluid into a metal bowl. She also referenced Helen Chadwick and Sarah Lucas, and the direct influence of both could be seen in the use of tights to create sexually-outspoken models of genitalia, and plaster casting of male and female genitals.

Eleanor Hudson’s black and white room was also interesting and detailed, and Chidera Ugada’s paintings, inspired by West African masquerades, stood out for their imagery and originality.

In the Lanchester Gallery, Oliver Wood’s The Farewell Train’s Last Whistle photographs of a former rail route were displayed in a interesting concertina way. Jenny Stonely explored the Anglo-Indian experience through portraits, and Ella Parkinson explores the state of dreams though some spooky self portraits.

These are the ones that stood out for me, so have a look and see who you think we should be seeing more of in future years.