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Flash, a student group show featured sculpture of varying quality packed like sardines into the dingy old pistol range on Manchester Street. Many of the works tended to be on the clever touchy feely side, with lots of catchy sound and kinetic pieces, these along with a proliferation of quirky assemblages served to demonstrate Andrew Drumond's influence as mentor to many of the students.

Kathleen Peacock produced a piece distinctly different from her fellow students. A Storm was blowing from Paradise was one of the few works to really make effective concessions to traditional concepts of beauty. The shadow cast by this elegant bent cane boat formed interesting play of light. The kontiki like pyprus boat did not appear particularly at home in its industrial surroundings, it felt more like a museum miniature.

The rest of the main space is dominated by two works, Gavin Buxton's Long White Cloud, and Daniel Arps's BL 2000. The formica coffee table of the Long White Cloud is an amusing dialogue on our nations favourite carsonagenic habit. The cork tiles littered in cigarette butts and table are skilfully crafted in the shape of our great country. The work whiffs of cheap smokers cafè culture, well balanced and texturally amusing. The Banana Lounger also plays on pathetic ironies. This spastic exercise machine has appealing leather upholstery, it gives the feel that one was intended to lie back may be to perform some sort of all-over body workout. However, the machine is impossible to deploy in any practical fashion rather it seems to be an object of frustration. The golf course is comparatively like the bonus free gift that the first fifty callers receive absolutely free. The club, an assemblage of a golf club shaft and an iron is well produced, but the course itself appears rushed, the maroon carpet hardly had a shape indicative of golf green, its construction lacks the polish of the rest of the piece.

"Did the earth move for you?". The question forms the alternate title for Julaine Stephenson's sound and movement piece the Seismophone. The work certainly contains shock impact it's interesting mechanical appearance drew one in but those foolish enough to play with it were barraged by unpleasant noise, sent the Seismophonic clattering in it's yaunic glass jar. Stephenson plays on the old metaphor of sexuality reduce to mechanical pseudoscience. However unsubtle the title the work itself is quite controlled in its sexual allusions.

The same could not be said for Rachel Brown's perverse doll. Looking like some mutant hermaphrodite drag queen Barbie with a bad case of dermatitis, the doll stands at the top of a flight of stairs bathed in light with the red carpet rolled out. Like many of the smaller more intimate works, the piece was pleasant discovery in an unexpected place. The work was a welcome relief; at least somebody was prepared to score laughs with a cheap kitsch gag that seemed to have some real world content. Some other works seemed to trip over themselves trying to be clever. Particularly guilty of this was the problematic Monitor. Grant Wylie's work was playfully interactive and almost as entertaining as a ride at science alive. I felt it suffered from an over emphasis on technical contrivances. It had the potential to be quite sinister if the work had been resolved with a tad more refinement, and equal emphasis on the visual design as much as technical concept.

It is intrinsically impossible sum up a collection of 23 artists work, all with their own tangents, however, a friend wryly commented that the show was like a retrospective of one artist's entire career. Perhaps that says something about the amount of mutual appreciation and criticism practised in the university fine arts department.

Nik Wright
20 August 1998