‘I love the sense of freedom and when the breathing is right I feel I could run forever. I very often go into the studio after and I can breath and concentrate. Feel that anything is possible. I feel happy and free.’ – artist and runner Jo Volley, 2012.
Not only that, the run itself is often fruitful – in all senses of the word – for Jo, for, she would pick oak apples that she transforms into ink that she uses for her paintings. Jo, of course, is far from being alone – novelist Joyce Carol Oates, the great code-breaker Alan Turing, Processing (software)-inventor Daniel Shiffman, Singapore-based theatre practitioner Ben Slater and cult-novelist Haruki Murakami are just a few other people for whom running serves as a creative stimulus. Both artist Kai and curator Dr Martine Rouleau have written their entire PhD thesis while running, dis-entangling problems that they could not work out while seated at the desk and ruminating things in a linear, causal, rational fashion. Inspired by how Jo Volley and other runners-artists are inspired by running? Keen to have try a hands-on, or rather, feet-on exercise exploring the correlation between running, the runner’s high and creativity? Had fun in RUN! RUN! RUN! not-run-of-the-(tread)mill programme including the Running-Discourse, Running-Tour, Heritage-Running-Trail, Running-Game and Running-Clinic, and hungry for MORE! MORE! MORE!? Then join us in a Running-Creativity workshop.
SAMPLE WORKSHOP FORMAT
There are variations, but an example of such a workshop can be:
- run to an artist’s studio (the run should be at least 6km or 40 minutes long, for that is usually when body – and mind – are properly warmed up and ready to party);
- discuss the correlation between running and thinking en route either in pairs, or, as in a party, by going around the group and chatting with different people;
- tour artist’s studio, and find out how running inspires them;
- land in a pub to share our findings;
- run home on a high;
- create a masterpiece (or two)*. *Disclaimer: Runner’s high not guaranteed; **Even if runner’s high is achieved, creative insights are not guaranteed; ***Even if runner’s high and creative insights are both achieved, art-making talent not guaranteed; ****Even if runner’s high, creative insights and art-making talents are in place, what qualifies as ‘art’ and ‘masterpiece’ are negotiable. .
UCL ART MUSEUM COMMISSION
Just how ‘wonderful’ and ‘fascinating’ this was:
This particular Running-Creativity workshop took place on a warm Saturday 1 November 2014. It was commissioned by runner-curator Dr Martine Rouleau of the UCL Art Museum. The event was co-run by Dr Kai Syng Tan and Jo Volley, with special guest Dr Alan Latham. The starting point was University College London at Gower Street. Kai and Alan led a group of participants and ran 3.5 miles to Hampstead Heath. En route via the busy Camden, we shared thoughts, personal anecdotes and speculations about how running may be conducive to creativity. Then, we met runner-artist Jo Volley, who told us about her love for running, and how she would pick oak apples that she transforms into ink that she uses for her paintings. We then ran to Jo’s studio or rather ink museum where we saw examples of ink that she has produced, and the associated paraphernalia that she uses to create this magic. The workshop ended with drinks at pub, while a few others ran back to UCL with Kai (7miles total).
Dr Kai Syng Tan, a PhD graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art, is a Research Fellow of Leeds College of Art. Together with Dr Alan Latham (Senior Lecturer, UCL Geography), she runs the RUN! RUN! RUN! International Body For Research, a research institute that investigates and promotes running as a creative toolkit that can enable us to re-imagine the way we engage with the city, the internet and how we think. The first RUN! RUN! RUN! event, the International Festival of Running 1.0, was a runaway success that was covered in the Guardian newspapers.
Dr Alan Latham is a Walking or rather Running Encyclopaedia on Running who is working on a book on the history of running.
Ms Jo Volley is a multiple award-winning artist and Senior Lecturer on the graduate painting programme of the Slade School of Fine Art, and Co-Director of The Material Research Project.
Dr Martine Rouleau is a curator who is currently working as Learning and Access Officer at UCL Art Museum where she is responsible for the strategic development and delivery of all aspects of audience engagement. Martine runs too.
Click on any of the images below to run gallery. All images copyright Estie McLaurin 2014 @EstieMusic.