The Art of Running

A few weeks ago I have been contacted by Luke Waller, an inspiring illustrator and an MA student of Visual Communication.

I got involved in one of his projects as a curator and a brainstormer. And I actually really enjoyed it, even though it was connected to running (which I am not a big fan of).

Luke got the opportunity to make a window display for a shop Running Bath where they sell running footwear and clothes.

About the project he said:

The Chinese philosophy of Daoism and the book, ‘Born to Run’, on the surface don’t seem to have much in common. However after my recent trip to China I can see that the two are very closely related. My starting point for the project was to look at the book ‘Born to Run’, which gave me a new and inspirational way of looking at running. In particular about being free of modern life’s burdens and experiencing the natural world around you, and ultimately how this can improve your life (enlightenment). This links very well to Daoism’s Philosophy of trying to disconnect yourself with possessions to enable you to listen to ‘earth’s music’ using your spirit or heart. I attended a very important lecture whilst in china by associate professor Li Xi, Professor Li talked about daoist art theory in ancient chinese landscapes, and how the philosophy has influenced the work they created. This lecture is a major driving force behind the project which will under pin my artwork creation. My overall aim, like the Daoist’s is to get people to find some inner peace, enlightenment or just ‘The Path’ that helps them to find these illusive achievements. I believe by combining the philosophies of the book ‘Born to Run’ and art theory from Daoism I can genuinely give people a taste of ‘The Dao’ which in English translates as ‘The Path’.

He made an artwork for the window display and decribed it as:

Chinese landscapes work in complete harmony with daoist philosophy, unlike western art which broke from its philosophical routes long ago. In pre modern china, elite painters used imagery not to mirror the world around them, but to evoke unfathomable experience. My intention to replicate that but using a hybrid of western and chinese signifiers to get a balance of the two. Making the image relatable and identifiable to western viewers but also keeping some of the chinese exotic mysticism that their landscapes hold.



All in all, he really managed to connect running to Chinese philosophy, which, at first, I definitely did not think it is actually doable. But he succeeded.

And the opening night was a proof of that. We decided on a Chinese-themed evening and transformed a shop a little, so it coincided with the theme and the artwork in the window. After a group of runners came back from their evening run, they were able to drink some Chinese tea and get the energy back with Asian nibbles.

It was a really good project for me to be involved with, as it took me out of the (normal) gallery space and I had to think differently how to reach the audience with art in the context of a regular shop. I am glad Luke invited me to collaborate and hopefully I brought some new insights into his already established work.

By the way, can you spot something intriguing in the artwork?



  1. featured image: The Boats on the River. Available from: ⌈Accessed 18 September 2017⌋.
  2. Chinese landscapes. Available from: ⌈Accessed 18 September 2017⌋.
  3. personal archive
  4. Gray, H. (2017)
  5. Gray, H. (2017)
  6. personal archive
  7. Gray, H. (2017)
  8. personal archive
  9. Gray, H. (2017)
  10. Gray, H. (2017)
  11. Gray, H. (2017)
  12. Gray, H. (2017)
  13. Gray, H. (2017)
  14. Gray, H. (2017)
  15. Gray, H. (2017)
  16. Gray, H. (2017)
  17. Gray, H. (2017)

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