The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists has established a niche in its spring exhibition programme in recent years to show off work by students from various colleges around the West Midlands.
This year's selection turns out to be pretty much what you might expect, and if anything a little more conservative. One of the exhibits I liked most, Ring Road by Patrick Simkins from Coventry University, is a jolly, brightly-coloured expressionist landscape which has nothing at all to do with contemporary trends but would have been pretty much at the cutting edge in about 1910.
With no clear stylistic direction to be seen and an emphasis on traditional media including painting, you are pretty much on your own in deciding you like this or that. For instance, I liked the neat little rowing boat by Yianny Eleftheriades from Wolverhampton University which appears at first sight to be made of weathered grey wood but is actually made of paper and card. A companion-piece doorway has a satisfyingly solid-looking knob which is also equally delicate (no, I'm afraid I couldn't resist checking).
On the other hand, I can't really say I liked the giant pastel drawings by Oliver Jones from Birmingham Institute of Art & Design very much, though technically they are possibly the most impressive things here.
They are three giant heads of people with variously deformed faces, which may have been inspired by the pastel drawings Henry Tonks was commissioned to make of victims of the First World War. In fact, one of the faces, showing the effects of mustard gas, may come from that period, while the image of an African boy with a cleft palette is presumably contemporary.
One of the problems of a mixed exhibition like this is that it's difficult to pick up the line of thought behind an individual's work.
There is, though, one discernible development from the days when I was an art student, which is the influx of students from diverse cultural backgrounds. I was intrigued by Rowshona Begum's Silence, not so much for its heavily simplified treatment of the figure of a woman wearing a headscarf as for the decorative traetent of the background, with its delicate dabbles and squiggles of paint and its use of collaged decorative beads.
It was refreshingly out of the usual run of things and made me curious to see more of her work.
* Until March 13 (Mon-Fri 10.30am-5.30pm, Sat 10.30am-5pm; admission free).