Anne James reports on a show by students of the Ruskin School of Art

Twenty-three young artists are taking part in this year’s Ruskin Degree Show. Last year it attracted more than 5,000 visitors, including art professionals and representatives from interested galleries.

The expansive space of Ruskin’s Green Shed on Osney Mead Industrial Estate has been divided up to provide discrete space for the work of each artist. The work on show includes painting, sculpture, performance art, film making and installations. Illustrated above is Melanie Gurney’s installation Mr & Mrs, which comprises two projectors each showing its own film — films that are then filtered through sheets of Perspex to provide the final phase of the work: a combined filmic piece.

Gurney has drawn on her mixed race heritage, Chinese and Trinidadian, as the inspiration for the piece. Mixed cultural messages are combined to create a single identity which is then in turn projected on into the wider world. Ally Clark’s work is large! Large, but also comprised of a series of smaller pieces that she brings together to create her final sculptures. She uses mould-making casts to create individual components and brightly coloured woods to bring those component parts together.

They Stole Everything That Wasn’t Nailed Down 2014, exemplifies this. A large turquoise disk set at an angle hosts pink and black fragments, which on closer inspection prove to be casts of Clark’s own tongue executed in bright pink and each pierced by a cruel, black bent nail.

She modestly describes her work as creating surreal situations that are ‘quite dark’. The tongues in this case symbolise an unpleasantly intimate act of aggression, the loss of voice with religious overtones of martyrdom.

Clark is also showing an untitled bird house some 3x2x2 metres in size which provides a home for casts of her own feet and Bigger Boys 2014, a series of cartoon cacti in strong greens and flattened, giving them a faux, stage prop dimension. One of them is adorned with a hose attached to an elongated gun, and both are cast in soft rubber allowing them to drape around the waist of the plant.

The show provides a unique opportunity to see art at the cutting edge and experience the work of the young talented artists who will undoubtedly be making their mark.