This September sees the 11th year of Great North Run Culture get into full swing. The arts foundation, partnered with Newcastle-based The Great Run Company, annually commission artists working across genres and disciplines to create art inspired by the Great North Run.
Over the years, these commissions have taken many forms from a series of colourful portraits to writing and poetry commissions as well as the annual Moving Image Commission, which gives a chosen artist the opportunity to create films that are informed by the run and the runners themselves.
This year, the annual Moving Image Commission was awarded to artist Layla Curtis. Her work, already featuring in collections including the Tate Collection, and the Government Art Collection, is exhibited widely and her series of short films for Great North Run Culture opens at The Gallery at the Tyneside Cinema next week – Thursday 10 September.
The multiscreen installation was filmed entirely using thermal imaging cameras at last year's Great North Run, entitled Heatscapes the series of short films range in length from 1 minute to 6 minutes and trace the race participants' journeys across Newcastle, Gateshead and South Shields. The cameras make visible the normally invisible glowing heat generated by the runners' bodies during their training, warm up and the race itself, and reveal the temporary heat prints transferred from the runners onto the urban fabric as they move through the city.
And this year, as some 57,000 runners make new, invisible heat prints across the 13.1 mile route they will be in the company of a pop-up art installation entitled Onward, Together As, One. The sculptural installation has been devised and developed by Fine Art graduates Hope Stebbing and Oliver Perry as part of a Great North Run Culture partnership with Northumbria University. It is designed to create a visual impact on the landscape and will certainly do that as large sculpted letters spelling ‘onward' ‘together' and ‘as one' will be shown in three specific locations around the route of the run.
Appearing on the morning of Sunday 13 September and disappearing with the 57,000 runners after the race, the artists' have taken the idea of over fifty thousand individuals moving through the course as though they were one.
And finally, for those who fondly remember the GNR Million Opening Ceremony on the banks of the Tyne last September, there'll be a special screening of the projections (which were mapped onto Sage Gateshead) at Gateshead Old Town Hall on Saturday 12 September from 6:15pm. The evening will showcase, for the first time, Tal Rosner's moving image piece – which has been reworked for the new venue. Culture award winning writer David Almond will narrate the evening, reading from his poetic script And Let Us Run which was commissioned in 2014 by Great North Run Culture. Tickets for the event are £5 (£3 concessions) and is scheduled early enough so as not to disturb the sleeping patterns of the Great North Runners! GNR Million RE:WORK, Saturday 12 September, 6:15pm – 7:45pm.