I enter the O3 gallery in the Castle Complex and my heels click intrusively on the stone floor. The gallery is a small grey grotto, with Claire Wiltsher’s paintings hanging from the ceiling and shining, jewel-like, from the dark walls. Wiltsher left her job and home several years ago and took off on a journey around the globe recording sights and experiences in sketches and photos. These paintings are the result of this highly personal journey. The overriding impression of these paintings is of colour and texture. The texture is rough, thick and thoroughly satisfying. Colours are vibrant, if a little stereotypical. England is typified by muddy, grey green colours whilst Cuba and hotter climates are reds, oranges and yellows. She uses collage with exquisite accomplishment, blending magazine clippings and photographs with acrylic paint.There is, however, a trace of A-level Art about Wiltsher. The texture reminds me of Anselm Kiefer’s work whilst the information handed out about the artist cites Maria-Helena Viera de Silva as an inspiration. Both artists are favourites of art teachers across the country. Even the technique of collage, though utilised well by Wiltsher, is one favoured by art departments to the point of cliché. The personal element of this exhibition is something which poignantly reminds me of Sixth Form. You were always encouraged to explore yourself and draw on personal experiences which is exactly what Wiltsher does in these paintings, almost too much. Whilst most art is clearly a result of a personal experience, I would suggest that these paintings are too personal, so personal that they exclude the viewer from fully understanding them because they were not there with her. There is however one exception. Isolation, a small painting to the left as you walk in, is easily overlooked. It depicts a tumultuous scene so vigorous that it is almost abstract. A man and his dog traverse this lonely scene calmly as if oblivious to the roaring wind around them. It is much freer in technique than the linear and rigid depictions in other pieces and feels more like an experience for the viewer rather than the artist. Other pieces, whilst not as emotionally evocative as Isolation, do display the artist’s talent very well. Alluring Light, in particular, makes beautiful use of colour whilst Hypnotic explores form and space very well. On the whole this exhibition is visually exciting but not necessarily mentally stimulating. I was thrilled by the colours and the painterly skill of Wiltsher but I certainly did not experience the “energy and spiritual presence of a place” I was promised.