Friday night saw The Old Courthouse packed for the opening of Fired Up; an exhibition of work by members of the Flux art group.
Many art groups only follow one approach or style. Throughout the evening it became clear that the real strength of Flux is the inclusion of many different ways of working clay, metal and glass.
Work ranged from the domestic ware of Isabel K-J Denyer, vessels created with the very clear intention of being used, to the almost futurist sculptures of Brian Anson. Contemplation, an aluminium crouching figure with smooth swooping surfaces, would not have looked out of place on the set of 1920s film Metropolis.
The exhibition doesn’t shy away from controversial subject matter. Jan Wilkin’s freestanding sculpture The Drug Carousel confronted the endless circular path Afghans, heroin users and soldiers find themselves on; the form of the piece neatly echoing the poppy willow sculpture outside The Old Courthouse.
I managed to grab five minutes to talk to David Oxley, one of the tutors behind Flux. David really embodies the idea of Fired Up in his passion for the group’s work. He explained how Flux had grown out of the qualifications delivered by Harrogate College. It gives mature students in particular the opportunity to continue exploring ceramics, glass and print beyond the restriction of a more prescriptive course structure.
David explained the members can draw on the experiences of active practitioners within the group, like himself and Fiona Mazza, while still pursuing their own creative interests. Guidance is given on different techniques, the use of kilns and maintaining sketchbooks.
The approach certainly seems popular with students travelling from Ilkley, Leeds, and even Cumbria, for the one day a week course.
So, what are my personal favourite pieces in the exhibition? Elaine Kirby’s Stone Head captured the different textures of nature including wood and glasslike stone; a sculpture reminiscent of the aesthetic in Pan’s Labyrinth.
Mandy Long’s clay and glass sculptures capture a real dynamism in a static piece.
Kay Latto’s mythological sculptures are powerful with real presence. For me the face emerging from a brick wall is a reminder that magic and gods can be found in the most mundane of places.
The exhibition is free (open from 10am-4.30pm, Monday-Saturday), is running until 29th July, and in its diversity has something for everyone.