‘Vane Shorts 4’ presents the work of five artists, each of whom references or plunders found and/or historical images and artistic styles, filtering and re-working them in the process.

Paul Becker’s paintings contain a disturbing mixture of the innocent and the perverse, one where animals and humans interact in often dubious ways. Whilst the rawness of the rendering of many of his paintings matches the uncomfortable nature of their content, this belies an intimate knowledge and willingness to engage with art history on his behalf, with references to classical painting – as well as to myths and fairytales – running throughout his work.

Nadia Hebson’s paintings employ differing traditional artistic techniques. But, rather than being concerned with any modish trend for artistic naivety, incompetence and indifference towards subject matter, Hebson’s practice is knowing, considered, literary without being illustrative or impressionistic. It’s as though the artist is telling us “here’s a shipwreck in the manner shipwrecks apparently demand”, or “let’s pretend that painting this way is still possible and we’ll see what the result is”. And the result is somewhere between playful questioning and genuine emotional investment, the ghosts of past pictorial conventions making themselves present in and through a practice that is “absolutely modern”.

Sara MacKillop’s visual language plays with the small objects that inhabit the areas of the not so distant past. The materials she uses are no longer completely ‘current’ or ‘retro’; it’s as if her work points towards the wider culture in a more general sense. She patiently creates a reality that distorts and makes sense of the confusion that surrounds us. Her work exists in the double edge between the culture of design, and the identity each object gains from being changed into something new.

Morten Schelde is interested in the boundaries between personal memory and an objective approach to phenomena in the world. Operating in the area somewhere between cataloguing and interpretation, his drawings combine reality with fantasy, man with nature. Taking his imagery from diverse sources – pictures of friends, the internet, popular culture, his own observations – he suggests possible (sometimes multiple) narratives behind the drawings, drawing our attention towards the stories that lie beyond the literary references and compositional appeal.

Flora Whiteley’s drawings take their subject matter mainly from the mediated collections of images that she has amassed over years. These images are drawn from both visual images (weekend colour supplements, illustrated books, matchboxes, film, art history and so on) and ‘literary’ imagery (song lyrics, the bible, Greek and Roman mythology, poetry, literature, newspaper headlines etc). Making simple studies from these, she investigates what it is that makes a particular image arresting. This method allows her to experiment with decisions about the presentation, choice and meaning of images.