A dirty art: trail running*

I look at the large format canvas in front of me and ponder.

richard painting in the field

I guess I’m supposed to be pondering the way the artist has captured the light, the technique to be admired in the brushstrokes, what the scene – of a swathe of earth near Tibooburra located at the remote intersection of the Victorian, South Australian and Queensland state borders – makes me feel.

I’ll tell you what it makes me feel: like I want to go run it. I want to jump into that canvas and run through the brushstrokes, explore the terrain the artist has captured for the ‘cultural crowd’ that mills around musing, supping champers, demolishing cheese platters and generally engaging in discourse that has absolutely nothing to do with running whatsoever and is never likely to (judging by the a few of the postures and paunches pontificating around the room).

Anyway, I’m here, in amidst this arty crowd and all I can think of is trail running the lands that the three artists on show have captured. Stick with me here, there’s a parallel between the art world and ours.

One of the artists is revered Gippslander, Gary Miles. His son, Beau, just happens to be the first person to have successfully run the length of the Australian Alpine Walking Trail. He’s the reason I’m here – Beau is showing his film of that feat up at the Brooks Trail Run Fest, happening on Mount Baw Baw, and which I am curating (oh, such an artsy term).  Beau is also tapping back in to his Dad’s talent with his hands, rather than his feet, these coming days as he turns some wood medallions for some of the event winners at Baw Baw.  I happen to be staying at his rural property on the way up the mountain and so I find myself here at the art showing. Beau apologies for dragging me along, but I don’t mind in the slightest.

Screen shot 2013-03-25 at 2.23.18 PMIn the speeches, each artist talks about camping, heading off to explore the landscapes they were there to paint, to ‘experience’ them as a human beings, to discover their ‘essence’ in order to capture it in oil daubs.

All I can think of is that while they experience with a pure purpose to go and bottle that earth up and explode it onto canvas to share, with all their artful perception of it, we trail runners go one step further, to the detriment of the ‘sharing’.

We run it. We don’t bottle it, capture it, represent it or ever try to control its ever-changing light. We are artists of movement through our subject, and the art only ever lasts each split moment, in each distinct step.

We leave our art on the trail (maybe where it belongs?).

Sure, we can talk about it when we get back. I’m now blabbering to anyone who will listen about the light up on the ridges between Mount Erica and Mt St Gwinear after marking the marathon course between Walhalla and Mount Baw Baw.

But can we ever truly show it to anyone, the way an artist can? Can we drag the beauty out of the bush and do any kind of justice to it?

But in that lies magic. The magic of a moment experienced and felt never to be replicated nor, really, shared off trail.

The true art of trail running is to be in that moment. And let it seep onto your inner canvas.

(And then, perhaps, pontificate about that moment to a willing – or glazed eyed – audience. There.  There’s the parallel to the art world.)

Your artsy-fartsy editor, Chris Ord

*This is the AU Ed’s editorial from the latest edition of Trail Run Mag.

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