Art show to get you thinking

17th June 2005 at 01:00
We Didn't Mean to be Bad Kids; TV Made Us do It Collins Gallery, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow until June 25 tel 0141 548 2558

Any pupils who have ever said "Art is rubbish. It doesn't have anything to do with me" should go along to the Collins Gallery in Glasgow.

If they don't like what is on display in We Didn't Mean to be Bad Kids; TV Made Us do It, there probably is no hope for them.

This exciting show, touring from the Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, is a revelation, not only to pupils of all ages and abilities but also to teachers.

The title of the show is a bit misleading. Ten young artists, from Glasgow, London and Manchester, were asked to contribute work that was loosely based on experience from childhood and adolescence, some of which may, or may not, have been inspired by what they saw on television as kids.

The result is a bold, colourful display that showcases 10 quite distinct, very contemporary styles, achieved through photography, painting, wood, paper and even cross-stitched embroidery. The work is often fun, sometimes disturbing, generally thought-provoking and painstakingly crafted.

In a series of four technicolour photomontages, Pamela So (a Glasgow School of Art graduate) brings a Barbie doll to life on a tour of the famous Coney Island amusement park in New York.

The work of Manchester graffiti artist Brya Weths has been copied off the city's walls and on to embroidery canvas in a delightful cross-stitched composition that could tempt even the baddest of bad boys to swap spray paint cans for a needle and thread.

Simon Woolham uses only thin cardboard, black ink and a few well-chosen words to produce magical decoupage-type works that evoke adolescent memories of bonfire nights, home-made bombs on the school football pitch and generally hanging around on street corners with pals.

David Hancock's large, detailed painting of a sixth year girl (uniform shirt, tie, Dr Martens boots) sitting in dappled sunlight, gazing up at a tree, makes you feel uneasy. Something isn't quite right. Then you notice that her book is The Virgin Suicides. (Are those self-harm scars on her arms?) And then you notice the title of the painting is We Rule the School, from the song by Belle and Sebastian, whose lyrics include: "Why did she do it? Was she scared or sad? I Why did she do it? Was she bored or pushed? Do something pretty while you can."

On the face of it, all seems well in Dawn Woolley's little dolls' house.

There are roses outside the door, lace curtains at the windows and there is mum in the kitchen I drunk, apparently. Look even more closely and it seems that two children are having a vicious fight in their bedroom while another is in the bathroom, using the toilet.

A television set does feature in the exhibition. Vincent James has contributed an over-size, cartoon style, wooden cut-out one which has been attacked with a cartoon cut-out sword and saw and is, literally, on the blink (so mind the low-level strobe light effect).

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