Nottingham Trent University
East Midlands

A vast array of work graced the walls of the Nottingham Trent University studios-turned-gallery space between the 5th and 10th of June 2010. Graduating students staged an accumulation of well curated video, installation, painting and performance, of which many pieces would be worthy of display amongst established artists.

One particular piece that caught my attention was by Anastacia Neishlotova – a sculpture of a horse like animal, accompanied by its playful shadow. Both the 3D horse and the large painting of the same animal appeared childlike and fantastical, instantly allowing the viewer to enter a mythical and made up world. The larger horse initially struck me to be a mother-like figure, leading its child by the silky piece of ribbon that bonded the pair.

But are made up worlds, and fairytales, always so innocent?

I viewed the work more closely. In contrast to the warming red love hearts that dominate the image, the painted eye is sinister. As it stares down at the small figure on the floor, a more menacing meaning of the piece begins to appear. The elongated shadows held different poses to their owners, making them appear unsettlingly deformed – acting out a darker side to what these creatures were seeing and doing. An innocent view of the poses would simply be that the shadows represent what these figures are dreaming, but whilst performing their desperate wants, the once inanimate objects rapidly gain their own status in the show. Although they stand still, in a secret world they daringly dance. Disobediently, the silent silhouette chomps on the heart that it longs for, but in the black of the shadow, that heart dissolves into the shape of a poisoned apple.

Their detailed selves were trapped in a twee world of hearts and happiness, but the underlying story of their lives showed a blank darkness, where their forced innocence turns into psychotic depression.

I praise the way that Neishlotova tampered with my emotions. I travelled from a playful scene, into an unsettling ‘Alice-in-Wonderland’-like setting. The curation of the work helped this transition of emotions to be achieved. Protruding from one wall onto the floor on which you stand, the work reached out to you echoing connotations of grasping immortal hands, searching for life. The surrounding wall forming the corner of the space makes you feel trapped. The creatures instantly connect with you, provoking a responsibility to help with their escape from the distressingly precious world in which they are trapped. If you choose to make your way around the corner wall, away from the visibility of the work, you are forced into a guilt induced state, knowing that child infused suffering is happening just steps away.

Other artists that could be found in the canvas of the Bonington Building, Nottingham, can be viewed on the degree show website – The impressive work in the show follows previous years of successful third year Fine Art exhibitions. It hints at the talent that’s hidden in the depths of Nottingham Trent University, and I would certainly recommend a visit to next year’s degree exhibition, to personally witness the work of some sparks of the future.