* December 2020: Join RAN call out and win inaugural £500 RAN Award

RAN: The Running Artfully Network (RAN) will use running-inspired art and art-inspired running as a vehicle for social action and building the agenda of running as an artistic research paradigm. This new international network will gather artists, social scientists, mental health experts, technology policy makers and disadvantaged communities to re-imagine running as a creative process of enquiry and vehicle for social action. My collaborators are: artist Dr Veronique Chance (Cambridge School of Art), swimmer and artist Prof Lisa Stansbie (Dean of Leeds School of Art), feminist-post-humanist social-change expert Dr Elisa Hererra-Altamirano (Mexico/Spain), artist, ultra-runner and Fermynwoods Director James Steventon, aesthetic expert Dr Matti Tainio and emerging artist Beth Clayton.

4 EVENTS: Mixing approaches in live art, social practice and more, RAN will activate the running body as artistic medium and driver for research content and strategy, confronting assumptions about running as a sport or something for privileged bodies without socio-political concerns. Through 4 events involving or inspired by running, led by artist-researchers, we will analyse issues of: 1) social change, in PLACE & PEOPLE, working with deprived communities in Northamptonshire, 2) the climate crisis, in PLANET & PLAY (running in winter in Aalto/Finland); 3) the threat of technology, in PROSTHETICS & PERFORMANCE, at a high-tech sports centre in Leeds, and 4) mental ill health, in POSSIBILITIES AHEAD & PASSING THE BATON, with local councils, sports and arts groups in Essex).

ACTIVITIES: Group runs aside, we will curate ‘sprint talks’ and mobile exhibitions at unusual sites, to break down abstract concepts, instigate new dialogues and catalyse new insights. We will co-develop 4 ‘Running Artfully’ methods and build a manifesto, inviting diverse individuals and organisations to become signatories. We will comply with government rules and adjust plans where necessary. We will share documentation and resources on a new website using the ideas management platform Wazoku which will become a valuable live gallery to replace physical events.     

PARTNERS include Fermynwoods Contemporary Art and Northamptonshire Surprise 2020 (Northamptonshire), Pori Urban Platform (Finland), the Carnegie School of Sport (Leeds), The Tilbury Trust (regeneration programme) and Metal (artistic lab) (Essex). 

IMPACT: We will reach communities in the arts, sport (estimated 200 at Metal and Fermynwoods), and the general public as we run or exhibit at non-art spaces (500 at Deene Park, 500 at Tilbury Cruise Terminal, and 200 on the streets of Pori and Leeds). Further dissemination online or through participants’ networks may reach 20,000. 

CURATORAL TEAM: RAN will be led by a Team of 6 artist-researchers and a Social Change Consultant. They include the PI and CO-I who have a combined 23 years of artistic research in running, a digital lead at Engage (global network for gallery educators) and a Finnish expert in the aesthetics of darkness and folk running. Each will play 2 roles, sharing: 1) local knowledge as Curatorial Leads of the events, and 2) subject expertise as Technology, Mental Health, Interdisciplinarity and Social Change Leads across activities.

ADVISORY BOARD of 7 includes a Senior Policy Advisor in technology from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, a global authority in mental health, and an Environmental Humanities expert, author of the bestselling ‘Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human’.   

FUTURE-PROOFING: Team includes a ‘Gen Z’ artist and a Social Change Activist, an ex-psychotherapist with the Mexican government’s effort against domestic violence. Both women represent the next generation to lead RAN to investigate further areas. We will also provide competitive bursaries for emerging artist-researchers to join the events. A student will intern at an event through the Anglia Ruskin University Undergraduate Researcher Scheme (pending). We will collate resources for a Special Edition in the Athens Journal of Sports (2023) and draft a strategic plan for a project grant. 

TRESPASSING BORDERS: Through running as a new artistic research paradigm, RAN will confront divisive or elitist approaches in research, art and sport. It seeks to energise dialogues across diverse bodies and bodies of knowledge, incite a rethinking of public policy and environmentalism from a creative, critical and relational approach, and demonstrate the rigour and significance of art practice itself as a system of knowing the world.  

Caption: Extract from Fermynwoods Contemporary Art brochure on the new Running Artfully Network.