Lyth Arts Centre

August 2010

Publication: Northings

Lyth Arts Centre

Six Simultaneous Exhibitions of Painting, Craft and Photography



Since it was set up by William Wilson twenty-five years ago the Lyth Arts Centre has been a cultural beacon in the Far North. Under Wilson’s inspired direction the centre has presented a consistently high standard of musical, theatrical and visual arts to a grateful and appreciative audience. As Wilson writes: “Most of the programme is devoted to presenting the work of professional British and international artists and performers and the centre also acts as a stepping off point for local artistic activity.”


This year’s annual summer exhibition of visual art (now in its final week) is no exception to Wilson’s stated aims. It includes the imagery of Michael Rand, jewellery by Angus McBay and photography by Alistair Steven. While McBay’s silver-smithing draws inspiration from the natural world (fish being a common motif), Steven’s lens- based work is atmospheric, enigmatic and darkly disconcerting. Rand, who was for many years a Senior Technician in the Printmaking Department of the Royal College of Art, was highly talented and his fine etchings of landscape and architecture combined with his place-sensitive landscapes make his untimely death last year all the more keenly felt.


Paula Solańska graduated from the European Academy of Arts in Warsaw in her native Poland. Her ceramics bring a European approach to this medium which she uses as the basis of portraiture and figurative studies, rather than utility vessels.  Solańska’s work is vigorous, passionate and sensual sharing more with the Northern European tradition of painting than the general concerns of ceramics. In this respect she may have been influenced by such masters as the Danish artist, Asger Jorn.


Karen Fraser is a native of Wick and her studies of the immediate locale bring an authenticity to her approach, honed through local knowledge and a pride of place. Many of these works are atmospheric and her renderings of Sinclair Bay, in particular, capture the genus loci.


Walking around this fascinating assortment of imagery and form, one comes across a variety of enigmatic sculptural objects which, it transpires, are not one-off sculptural objects but, rather, manufactured devices for all manner of applications. These include a veterinary speculum for artificial inseminationm, a rope mender and a garden rotivator. They have been collected,  displayed and assembled by designer David Osborne and these – his personal collection – form the subject of a recently published book. Clearly, this tradition of the found object as sculpture can be traced back as far a Duchamp, and priobably before.


These, along with the rest of the show, make fascinating and imaginative viewing.



Lyth Arts Centre







Objectivity: A designer’s book of curious toolsby David Usborne, with a Foreword by Thomas Heatherwick is available from Thames & Hudson, priced £14.95