Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Then and Now: Graduate Art and Design Exhibition, Banbury Museum, Oxfordshire (25 June-16 July 2011)

I have to confess that my expectations were low when I entered a small, badly lit gallery at the back of Banbury Museum which was showcasing this year’s art and design graduates from Oxfordshire School of Creative Arts.  Fourteen graduates were featured and covered the range of courses at the school - Fine Art, Graphic Design and Illustration, Design Crafts and Photography.

The Fine Art Department was ably represented by two painters showing great promise – Annabel Windor* with her street scenes series and Tricia Brant’s portraits*.   I could see their future work easily featured in the BP Portrait Award or Threadneedle Prize.

However, it was the work of graduates from the BA (Hons) Graphic Design and Illustration course which really stood out.  Olivier Porte’s campaign raising awareness on Alzheimer’s for a research institute in Paris was haunting and poignant and thankfully lacked naivety or heavy-handedness.  His sepia-toned TV advertisement “Everything I ever knew is gone” was very touching and really should be broadcast immediately.

In stark contrast in mood, but by no means lacking in complexity or sophistication, Alix Jeambrun’s witty “Food & Memory” fabric and stitch work and Libby Cramp’s “Souvenirs & Memories” collages celebrating her love of adventure and travel dominated the space.

There was some work on display which unfortunately wasn’t as strong as these artists and are unlikely to progress much further in their art career.  I do not know if the Oxfordshire School of Creative Arts participates in London’s yearly Free Range Art & Design Show for graduates, but I hope that it does because the strongest of these young graduates deserve much better exposure than the Banbury Museum has given them.

** My apologies if surnames are wrong, I could not read my own handwriting on my notes - very unproffessional and embarrassing so definitely won't happen again!

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