Every year I look forward to this prize, awarded to the best graduates from across Britain. It’s an exhibition that has improved year on year, but can it trump last year’s superb show?
This year’s show opens with a literal bang. Two aristocratic figures repeatedly head-butt one another, pigeons fly around in circles and a blue liquid runs into a bucket. This anarchic installation is the quirky humorous work of Jamie Fitzpatrick. I’ve seen his work a few times before, but this is his best yet and it’s likely to win the visitor vote.
The next room is much darker and contains a sound work that can only be experienced by jumping into the back seat of an E-class Mercedes. It’s unique and something I’ve never seen done before. Though the narrative around consumerism and capitalism does feel like a little tired and artists have done this to death by now.
Jane Hayes Greenwood follows with her large grotesque figure, but unfortunately she is the last of the impressive installations. The last room combines three artists but after seeing such spectacular installations, these all feel a little flat and feel like they can’t live up to what I’ve already seen.
The strongest work is a film by Christopher Gray. A puppet show turns ultra-violent with beheadings and disembowelment. It’s a deeply moving and hard to watch piece that easily deserves to win the overall prize.