Visual Arts: Shocking dreams and painted dogs - a buyer's guide

YOU NEVER know how your children are going to show you up - especially if they become artists. Whether their work embraces violence, homosexuality or God, the finger is likely to be pointed at mum and dad. Upbringing, you know.

Among young artists' work for sale this week are 25-year-old Alexander Sandover's 10 photographs, each showing a pair of gilt-framed portraits of an archetypal (and presumably heterosexual) paterfamilias and his wife - with a young gay couple in various poses beneath them.

Sandover, who graduated in fine art from the Byam Shaw School of Art, calls them "the normal couple". He says: "My interest lies in the gay politics of living in a time when a homosexual lifestyle is being increasingly tolerated and heterosexual reaction to the urban gay community seems to be mellowing".

The photographs cost pounds 400 to pounds 750 and are exhibited until 23 April in "Ambiguous" at the Thomas Kettle Gallery, 53a Neal Street, Covent Garden, London WC2 (0171-379 3579).

Toby Rye, 29, who has just become a father, says that his acrylic on board "Where Do Dreams Come From?" was inspired by a recent, not a childhood dream.

"But the point of it was that the person with no genitals was my father. It's me who's got the genitals now," he says. The child is father to the man.

"It's a bit personal, and some people are shocked," says Rye, a graduate of the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art. "But they feel relieved that someone can visualise the sort of dream they have had."

Ironically, Rye's one-man show of 20 paintings is being exhibited by Well Hung - the gallery that was founded by television presenter Chris Evans - in the restaurant and bar of Hype DF, the clothes shop in Kensington High Street, London W8.

Most of the paintings are brighter and lighter than this one. All cost pounds 450+VAT and the show runs until 2 May (0171-937 6355).

Nico Westerdale, 22, won a Chief Scout's Challenge Award. He was a good boy, but his parents' separation threw him.

He made "I Must Not Draw On The Wall", a repetitive engraving on metal, last September, around the time he used to sit on the stairs, listening to them discussing who would get what.

"I'm sure there was a link," he says: "I was feeling very depressed. At that time, I also made a video of paint drying."

Westerdale is best known for his closely-packed line drawings that build into distortions. The engraving costs pounds 200 and is exhibited in his show at the Original Levi's Store Oxford Gallery, 29 Queen Street, Oxford - another fashionable shop that, like Hype DF and Habitat, which initiated the trend, knows the value of linking its name with bright young artists.

The show is on until 28 April (0171-439 2559).

Giles Humphreys, 32, quit Sunday school at the age of seven. Now, he says, he is spoken to by God and drops all to sculpt to God's command.

His exhibition of 16 artworks, "Christ", includes a copper-wire word- cube of the Lord's prayer, "Our Father". His dad did have something to do with it - he had a printing and graphic-design business and young Humphreys became passionately fond of typography.

Humphreys, who studied design, manufacture and management at Cambridge, says that God speaks to him inaudibly. The first time it happened was when he was in prayer during a Bible Week.

"It was awesome, as I'm sure you can imagine," he says. "Now, I often sculpt by resting in God's presence, then going to clay, wax or wire to replicate what He has shown me. It often takes a number of iterations to get it right."

Prices of artworks in "Christ" cost from pounds 50 to pounds 1,000 and are exhibited at the Ark-T Gallery, Crowell Road, Cowley, Oxford until 25 April (01865 773499).

Justine Smith, a 26-year-old multi-media artist, has been making friends with dogs ever since she was forced to walk to her studio in Clapham, south London, after a road accident.

She photographs them, with their owners' consent, then sculpts them in chicken wire and papier-mache and covers them with her favourite gags from the Beano comic.

Besides Bean - her first comic dog, modelled from a German Weimaraner in a dog book - there's Wizard and Daisy (their real names), Spike the mongrel and Sniff, a breed she invented.

"I love the colours in the Beano," she says. "It makes the dogs look light-hearted and cartoony". She had never heard of those folk-art dogs woven from strips of cigarette packet. Of course not. That sort of thing went out with our grandparents.

Neil Hamon's "Blinkers" is one of six artworks showcased on the website Vote for Art.

The shortlisted works are by BA fine-art students at the Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design on the theme "Open to Interpretation".

The competition is sponsored by The Research Business International, in conjunction with the college.

Just access the website - www.voteforart.com - and cast your vote by 24 April.

The winner - who will receive pounds 1,500 and possibly another pounds 1,500, to be awarded by a judging panel - will be announced on the site on 1 May.

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