EDINBURGH COLLEGE OF ART, which was my own alma mater some 30 years ago, has been overshadowed for over a decade, first by Glasgow and its sudden upsurge of painters such as Campbell, Currie, Conroy, Alison Watt et al, and later by both Aberdeen and Dundee. Certainly the degree show which Edinburgh mounted has looked a little tired and unimaginative in recent times. Not this year, and by no means. This year the display in its Fine Art Department was as impressive as it could be. I may say it was a better D and P show than that of my own generation and it is a surprise to me to find myself saying it.

What was grand to find for a start was how much life drawing there was in the students' bulging portfolios. Damn good life drawing, too, though I did notice that a lot of the students were inclined to a very dense, well-worked style in execution. There is nothing wrong with that, but I cannot help but suspect that there is some tutor about who is influencing his or her students considerably. Good. That is how it should be.

The painting was, thank goodness, overwhelmingly painterly. After the disappointments of both Aberdeen and Dundee degree shows, it was exciting to see the return of painterliness. I liked Ross MacGregor's large abstracts, with their intense working. Oddly, Ross had started with an HND in graphic design at Aberdeen. Perhaps not so odd, for his work, abstract as it was, had strongly compositional edges. Marigold Newman's abstract expressionist pictures had a splendid American feel to them, as though Jackson Pollock had taken to drinking in the Grassmarket.

I also enjoyed Anna Somervilles's massive Eardleyesque paintings, though could not help but muse on how she's going to get any of them to take home in her dad's car. Lucy Oldridge presented some rather Hockney-influenced works which had the brush work of the early paintings of the boy from Bradford. Benjamin Sullivan's figurative work was nicely old-fashioned, and his draftmanship magnificent. Though most of his works were, as is invariably the case in today's art schools, very large, it was his little, almost cabinet pictures which I liked best. Mr Sullivan is a man to watch in future, but then damn near all of the graduands are going to be worth following up.

What was very pleasant was seeing a return to what I always think of as an Edinburgh style, painterly, bold, but kept a little more in check than Glasgow does. One last recommendation. Jenny Cleaney's dry-stippled illustration of a girl in a landscape, Half Whistle Down the Wind and half Andrew Wyeth's Christina's World, it is a lovely thing. But there is confidence in all the other departments too. Illustration was cool and competent, graphics also. The jewellery and silver-smithing was a good show, too, with Melanie Allan's little acorn figures enchanting and Laerke Kjaldejard, from Copenhagen, though on placement from Germany, showing such a vast output it took your breath away. Lots of life drawing here too.

Ceramics kept up the standard as well. I couldn't help but notice Veronica Elliot's work, some of them clearly influenced by American wizard ceramist Tod Garner, who had once been a lecturer at Edinburgh. It's nice to see a bit of humour too, and Jackie Cotton's exhibition of hands and lipstick raised a few smiles, as did Onya Attridge's models of household appliances. In short, good it is to see Edinburgh, now under the stewardship of Alisdair Rowan as principal, back on course and in business.

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