University of Brighton degree show, 2012

This is always a great event with lots of excitement from students and visitors alike. It takes a lot of organising with stress all round that is dissipated once the doors open. I sensed some conservatism this year, not least reflected in this work by Dean Mills (right). The flowers are fantastic; against the backdrop of an entirely different style in the form geometry, doubly so. These two familiar forms are both conservative and innovative at the same time. The work of Kate Longdon (left) uses colour to counter the pessimism in life and death cycles. There are the natural and human worlds, space and time in there somewhere.

So, next on my list of highlights is the work of Julia Arabadji. Arabadji provides the ‘glamour’. The picture (right) is stunning in the flesh, though I’m not so sure about those shoes. But the colours, contours and sheer size of the picture just say indulgence. There is real menace, however; the titles of Arabadji’s painting suggest that our woman is part of an undesirable set: Money Laundering, Euro up the Ass and Mind Games!

Next on the wow! list is a collage by Lucy Mazhari. Mazhari is a fine art printmaker. This one goes under the undistinguished title of Scroll #2. The cinemascope presentation gives it a voyeuristic quality that means one has to look and look closely not to miss anything. It is so busy.

Then there is the work of Richard Willan. This was the spookiest piece. These Dalek-like creations are erected in a black space but investigate visitors as they enter the cubicle. This investigation is accompanied by an appropriate noise. They could be friendly and they are made of familiar materials (mainly CDs). But anyone who has seen ‘Prometheus’ knows not to trust such unfamiliar ‘creatures’. The piece is called Auto-Form; unfortunately, I cannot upload my short video.

Finally, the conservativism and pessimism this year come out in the work of Jessica Illsley. Three young women are depicted as the Dagenham Belles oil on canvas. Forgive my photography, but there is not much fun going on here.

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