The fragile beauty of a clear shattered walking cane manufactured by Victoria Cox in ‘Exoskeleton or Fragile Mobility’ is one of the first things that you see in OBsessions, this year's showcase at MAO for Oxford Brookes University's art students. Soon after, Helen McCutcheon’s ‘In Memoriam’ theme is explored via a series of twelve large colour photographs detailing deceased insects, dry and breaking down. The soundtrack is provided by the soft tick-tock of audio tape running through several machines playing ‘Music for art galleries’ by Tom Milnes.
This lively exhibition full of exciting ideas includes performance art and some work which is clearly directly inspired by student life. John David McCauley’s ‘March/April Interventions’ are micro details of snapshots taken from everyday life - such as the number of people passing his window in the time it takes to type a paragraph. Painting is well represented as a medium here. A shot of bold, dramatic passion is injected by Karrine Powell’s large, red-hot canvas entitled ‘Cut, Stain, Release’. Nicolette Hollindale’s ‘Fragment’ has a dark, dirty and industrial feeling. ‘St John Street’ by Laura Degenhardt shows a dynamic cityscape with contemporary impressionist overtones.
The sixty-seven pieces of work are all well laid-out within in the gallery. A small room does justice to the delicate details of the elegant, nostalgic photographs in ‘Lacuna’ by Charlotte Turton. In Josephine Rutherfoord’s ‘I grandi dolori sono muti’ installation, the sketches of slightly incomplete circles fascinates. The tiny gap that is missing in each perfect circle is mind-altering. ‘Clockwork’ lets you stand in a closet space mounted with a cornucopia of clocks all set at different times, ticking out of synch. It is a strangely calming experience as time passes by in this installation by Jessica Hoad. Lauren O’Day addresses the everyday activity of walking in ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide To’. The show has many opportunities for viewer participation - not least walking along the lines O’Day lays out for us on the gallery floor. However, the gem is near the entrance of the gallery. Look out for manned booth ‘The Secrets Agency’ by Lucy Phillips. Here you can reveal a secret or offer to be a secret keeper for others. Classified.