Degree Show: Gray's School of Art (4 stars)

Degree Show: Gray's School of Art '17

Alison Gray

Impressively mature work from a tight-knit community of student artists

The painters are the ones to watch at Gray's School of Art degree show this year. The medium dominates the fine art department and the synergy between the works suggests a tight-knit community of artists influencing and inspiring one another at the college.

Much of the work looks to the Scottish landscape; Alison Gray's wonderfully thick layers of resin and oil are playful studies from Caithness, a coastal village once home to Scottish painter Joan Eardley. Nearby, Kathryn Geoghan's colourful canvases capture the gentrification of Ayr, the artist's hometown, through rhythmic shapes and imagery that shifts between the representational to the abstract. Annie Mulvey's large-scale works take inspiration from the Lammermuir Hills. There's an obvious joy in the process of making in Mulvey's work, as there is across the school: thick mixtures of flour, sugar and PVA glue ooze over the edges of her canvases and threads unravel onto the floor.

Elsewhere students take on global issues. Abigail Buswell responds to the refugee crisis with items of clothing so engrained with dirt that they become clay-like, heavy, sculptural objects suspended on the walls or over palettes. Lorna Mulhern's screen prints look at the abuse of rights for women and animals. A spectrum of issues – from China's one child policy to animal testing – are sensitively brought together in illustrated works printed onto fabric. It would be so easy to get wrong, but Mulhern has bravely risen to the challenge and made important work.

If there's a criticism to make it lies with the long, often arduous and over explanatory texts that accompany what has been made here. They're unnecessary and undermine the maturity of the art that's on show: the work can speak for itself.

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