The front gallery of Whanganui Arts@Centre is displaying five giant canvasses depicting imagery that ranges from sinister to sublime.

UCOL visual arts lecturer Lorraine Webb gave her first-year bachelor students the same brief and they have produced five very different works for the Big Painting exhibition.

Each work consists of four large panels painted with acrylics and students have selected their own subject matter.

Jasmine Bown's Elizabeth's Retribution depicts Hungarian noblewoman Elizabeth Báthory, the alleged "blood countess" who was reputed to have murdered hundreds of young women in the 15th century.

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"I think she has been unfairly portrayed and many of her alleged crimes were never proven.

"I have explored her story as well as the way women have been represented in mythologies and history."

Kieran Donnelly's Anonymous Icons incorporates elements of traditional, religious iconic art in four panels that can stand alone or as a combined work.

"I wanted to make positive icons and I have experimented with abstract patterns added to the traditional elements of the form."

Joshua Taylor's Eve of Battle depicts the animal figures of the Eastern Zodiac as warriors preparing for battle.

"I have previously explored the Western Zodiac in my work and this is something new.

"I haven't done much painting with acrylics although I've done a lot of digital art and it has been challenging but satisfying to produce the images I wanted."

Joana Horne's Read Between the Lines depicts two figures who appear to be on a stage.

"It is open for people to draw their own conclusions about what the two people on the panels might be experiencing.

"I used my brother and my friend as the subjects and I used syringes to make the patterns."

Sarah Osborne's Reina's Windows is a layered work depicting her small daughter as a shadowy white figure moving through the bright coloured panels of her work.

"It's about fast-moving ground and I used a squeegee to build up the layers."

Big Painting is open for viewing at Whanganui Arts@Centre, 19 Taupo from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 1pm Saturday.