Derby Uni The Big Show review

The%20Big%20Show%20White%20Logo%20Pink+webARTSBEAT ART: If you want to experience some of the most innovative contemporary art in Britain today then look no further than the University of Derby.

The ingenuity on display at the 2013 Fine Art Degree Exhibition is breathtaking and I can assure you a stroll around the studios at Britannia Mill will be as great an experience as a visit to the Tate Modern. No I am not exaggerating.

There may be the odd installation where you’re left wondering if the student had spent fewer hours than their peers on the project, but as a whole Shed 33 punches way above its weight and places Derby University firmly in the frame as a centre for excellence for emerging artists.

Thirty-three up and coming artists have spent the last three years working towards the goal of this exhibition and their achievements are remarkable and reveal an amazing amount of imagination and passion.

Winner of the Vice Chancellor’s Award was Caroline Lowe with her oil paintings on canvas. She has deconstructed an old photograph and recreated it in separate vertical sections. The simplicity of the work is inspired. Rosamond Woodrow’s Britannia Rule sculpture reflects her memories of her childhood in East Africa and involves two iron rails, two mounds of red sand and many more white gloves. It is a striking and mesmerising piece.

An installation gaining audible gasps from visitors was Accretion by Janet Fleming. Her sculptures of plaster and steel resemble the stalagmites and stalactites of a frozen cavern.

It is no surprise that Charlotte Poole was an award winner as her mixed media painting entitled Uncertain Dwellings was definitely a labour of love. The number of hours she must have spent on the work are unimaginable. The piece takes up three sides of a studio and it is worth going to the exhibition just to see this.

The winner of the Purchase Award for 2013 was the photography of Aly Jackson, entitled Separation – Avulsion. Individual pictures have been layered on top of each other to create evocative correlations of people, places and things which were once separated.

Joyce Searles, Alluding To Theseus, Katherine Ward’s The Discontented (a look at how women feel about their bodies), Richard Barwick’s bamboo sculptures, Julie Belsham’s The Street (a work involving fish tanks) and Fiona Whitfield’s Memory of Existence all also delighted this visitor.

The show is on until June 11 and opening times are from 9amm-7pm weekdays, 10am-5pm Saturdays and 10am-3pm on Sundays.

The exhibition is part of The Big Show which also includes work of other university students at Markeaton Street less than five minutes walk away. At this complex you will find the work of students studying among other things textiles, photography, graphic design and illustration. Make sure you take in both centres when you visit and look out for the pictures by Josh Kemp-Smith in the New Light exhibition. He has won the Dean’s Award for his work entitled Illuminating Forgotten Heritage. His pictures of iconic sites – many in the Peak District – are tremendous.

The work of Janet Fleming
The work of Janet Fleming
The work of Rosamund Woodrow
The work of Rosamund Woodrow