THE University of Newcastle continues its 50th anniversary celebrations with an exhibition of works by successful alumni of its art school. At the University Gallery until November 7 are paintings, prints and photomedia works, as well as sculpture and ceramics.
Surprisingly, many works were borrowed from private collections or from the artists themselves. I would have anticipated that the occasion would feature representative career-defining works by outstanding graduates from the university's own art collection, both as an archival exercise and as a promotion for the institution.
The aim was to feature 50 artists, but in the event 41 responded to the invitation. They cover about 30 years from the halcyon days recalled by Lezlie Tilley and Peter Gardiner, when there were six or seven professional painters on the staff, as well as many printmakers, sculptors, ceramicists and photomedia specialists.
Many graduates have now established careers well beyond Newcastle. Chris Langlois and Nigel Milsom are both represented. So are David Middlebrook, currently with an exhibition in South Korea, and Shan Turner Carroll, who recently showed in New York.
Some, like Niomi Sands, Ahn Wells and Luke Thurgate, are working in galleries. Many are teaching. Their works show no sign of a house style. Surely a good thing?
Peter Tilley and Andy Devine are well represented. So are Mazie Turner, Liam Power, Giselle Penn and many others.
Archaeological and wildlife illustrators from the university's unique course take up one wall.
It is a rewarding show of strength, though naturally one can think of other possible inclusions.
- AT Newcastle Art Space until October 18 is a pair of exhibitions that defy expectations. Kate Burton paints birds more or less life-sized. They are carefully named and coloured, but lack the detail of scientific illustration. However, they have a whimsical charm.
In the larger room, the assembled works of Suzannah Jones leap off the walls. They are not paintings as such, though paint often forms the basis for collaged assemblages of fabric, photos, found objects, trailing threads, even lumps of coal or electrical flex. Other works start with hollows gouged out of polystyrene blocks, revealing a disturbing pink interior.
Experimenting with materials and new ways to express ecological warnings is always valid. But more can be more than enough.
- BACK to Back Galleries have on show a trio of artists using contrasting materials until October 18. Lara Seresin's landscape drawings, with their delicate coloured washes, suggest pages from a carefully kept sketch book.
Lesley Goldacre is a photographer, depicting familiar landscape through a mist of nostalgia.
Rounding off an accomplished exhibition are the terracotta circular forms of Robyn Outram. She apparently creates smooth clay rings or circlets entirely by eye and hand. Something new to me.
- FORSIGHT Gallery also has a trio of female artists until October 18. Varelle Hardy must be one of Newcastle's most regular exhibitors, with her interest over the years expanding from ceramics to a long-time concern with demure frocks in surprising materials. Her new work, also flat on the wall, is in collage, using papers, prints and reproductions in harmonious compositions of muted colours, perhaps suggesting memory.
In contrast, Anne Rees is an energetic painter of conflated landscape, with hints of figures, while Felicity Howard's sardonic little paintings of pin-up girls recall the archetypes of Playboy. Girls with sauce indeed.
- AT Studio 48, also until October 18, is a group exhibition largely centred on small square paintings based on wildlife studies. Rachel Hardman paints fish. Liz Crane's colourful series are sea-slug fantasies. Mark Kempton plays variations on a spherical flowering cactus. Annette Mansfield visits the rock pool environment. Deanne Newland's focus is atmospheric landscape. Bridget Whitehead creates organic forms from limestone and composite materials, ideal for the garden room.
- THERE was also TINA. This Is Not Art has inspired many holiday weekends in Newcastle for a generation or two of people with off-piste interests and novel projects. The Lock-Up showed a variety of works, presumably ancillary to the programme of talks and symposiums, and nightly images projected on The Obelisk.