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John Holt: The Art of Flow

The Art of Flow, an on-going exploitation of flow and fluidity whereby Flow is the cerebral and emotional state of practice in which a person performing an activity is fully absorbed in a feeling of animated focus. There is full involvement and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In crux Flow is symbolized by complete immersion in what one ensures.


A solo-show titled ‘The Art of Flow’ of drawings and ceramic sculptures took place at the Art House Sheffield in May featuring teacher, curator, cultural activist, and arts facilitator, John Holt.  After many years of teaching in schools, colleges and universities (including lecturing at the Leeds University Fine Art, Art History and Cultural Studies Department) Holt established a major arts and mental health charity called AiM (Artists in Mind) in Huddersfield. This was fostered over twelve years with studios for people suffering from intense and long-term mental distress.


Holt’s research is in the field of an investigation of relationships with the ‘other’ and the capacity of Art to transform. His work exploring notions of health and creative thought processes is also established in his studio art practice where the concepts of flow and fluidity are explored in his ceramic and drawn images installations. All of Holt’s large-scale drawings are called Flow Maps and are in mixed media (inks, acrylics and soft pastels) on heavy-duty cartridge paper and his ceramic pieces Flow Pots. The pots are fired to stoneware and are coloured by oxides and under-glazes. The show ‘The Art of Flow’ is in ways an installation.


Flow is the mental state of manoeuvre in which a person performing an activity is fully absorbed in a feeling of invigorated application, full envelopment and gratification in the process of the pursuit. Proposed by Hungarian psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, flow is complete focused motivation. It is a dedicated engagement and epitomizes perhaps the definitive familiarity in yoking the sentiments in the service of execution and culture. The coastal landscapes of North Norfolk are a particular inspiration to Holt. The meandering and twisting lines of the riverbeds to the constants of the tidal wave flow onto the beach, the ever-changing skies and the winding through scenery of the tributaries and creeks. There is joy even enthusiasm in Holt’s work; his emotions seem positive and energized all being obvious in the drawings and the ceramic pieces on display. He manifests a creative flow, Holt’s language is unmistakable in being gauges of a quest for harmony. He has truly shown the conceivable aptitude of his creative nature through his love for his work.


If one does anything well it becomes gratifying, but to keep relishing something one needs to increase its complexity.  Holt’s current work indicates the therapeutic potential in art and it rejoices the supremacy and magnificence of the nature within us all. His work is a relentless and is a continual enquiry and investigation of the nature of flow and fluidity and in the human understanding and understanding.



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