Urban attempts to engage an audience of all ages in issues of urban design, writes Andrew Mead. Its medium is art, with paintings from the Tate's permanent collection displayed in three galleries of the Nottingham Castle Museum.
All refer to the city in some way but otherwise are very eclectic. They range from the Futurist exhilaration of Giacomo Balla's Abstract Speed - The Car has Passed to Thomas Struth's sober photographs of mundane city streets, with the clotted browns of a Frank Auerbach building site in- between.
In one room a range of books and magazines on architecture and urbanism is available to browse, and there are sheets of paper for visitors to write or draw their 'vision for the future of Nottingham'. But sadly the show falls short.
This is partly a question of venue. These three galleries, lit only by sparse uplighters high on the wall, are grim; art is as good as dead. Compounding the problem is haphazard hanging, which makes a miscellany seem still more random than it is.
'Someday the monotonous and ugly spaces you live in will be organised as intelligently and beautifully as the spaces have been in some [modern abstract] painting,' wrote Ad Reinhardt, and a fine 1951 abstract by him, with horizontal blocks of colour on a grey field, is on display. But why isn't it juxtaposed with the other works that have a gridded structure, evoking either plan or facade - with paintings by Mondrian, Ellsworth Kelly, David Hepher and Lisa Milroy, with Andreas Gursky's huge photograph of Montparnasse flats , with Zoltan Kemeny's honeycomb brass relief?
If these, and other items with a common theme, were collocated they could give more cohesion to Urban, and guide the audience's response. At present, 'visions for the future of Nottingham' aren't likely to be inspired.