neo:graduates 2013

neo:gallery22, Bolton

10th October 2013 to 1st December 2013

Reviewed by: Liam Ainscough

Situated in the recently renovated indoor market in Bolton, now a shopping mall, fusing the old and the new; sits the artist lead neo:gallery, presenting their new neo:graduate art prize 2013, a juried competition with a blind selection process, open to all graduates from the last two years.

15 works by 14 artists, including one international artist feature in this exhibition.  A diverse collection showcasing most aspects of contemporary art and practises, all traverse a common theme of social erosion in a political and economic downward spiral and the loss of one’s self for a want and need for a better tomorrow.  It sounds like contemporary art is heading towards doom and gloom, but it is quite the opposite.  From the refreshing honesty of Antonio De Le Hera’s video entitled ‘27000 pound coins’, poetically documenting his failings in delivering a final degree show, while baring his soul with the regret of letting his peers and tutors down, to the one of two works by Sean Lavelle ‘Rubblesack Green’, depicting the stagnant building trade.  A lone rubble sack is unceremoniously dumped near the centre of the gallery, filled with concrete forms in a circular fashion, however under closer inspection you find yourself staring down the abyss of a wishing well; subtle and thought provoking.

The selection panel for this exhibition were: Sophia Crilly; director & curator at Bureau, Manchester, Martyn Lucas; curator at the Turnpike Gallery and Robyn Woolston; artist and winner of Liverpool Art prize 2012.  The panel chose 20 works from hundreds of works submitted and even with a blind selection process, the fact that three of Bolton University graduates have been selected in this exhibition proves that contemporary art is no longer soley produced out of London and that other schools and universities can produce work on an even footing with their peers in London.

The winner of this art prize who has not been made public yet, they will be given a 12 week residency at neo:studios.  The prize includes accommodation, living expenses, materials and mentoring, to build up a body of work for a solo show in late 2014.

All 15 works in this exhibition are great examples of contemporary art and I would be happy to elaborate on each one but this is just a short review, a taster of a great exhibition, which is well worth a visit.  On a side note though, I heartily suggest that if you are a student or a lover of contemporary arts, each work warrants the time to research, to uncover their multi layered themes and ideals and the fascinating stories behind each one.  Alternatively ask the curator Jason Simpson, who is passionate about these works and has a wealth of knowledge regarding the works and the artists.