The Art of Running
Meet cover artist Dave Elsom
Words: Annie French
Images: Dave Elsom
'...That’s the thing with art, it’s perceived as a middle-class thing when you look at the price of paintings, and it’s only for those who can afford them...'
The artist Dave Elsom recently had his first solo exhibition at West Studios, and I was fortunate enough to have spent some time with him discussing Art and running, interests that we both have in common.
Dave told me that as a child he was always drawing and doodling, creating cartoons and comic books. His mum tried to encourage him by taking him on a visit to the Winchester School of Art.
‘That was my idea of hell, with all those posh kids. That’s the thing with art, it’s perceived as a middle-class thing when you look at the price of paintings, and it’s only for those who can afford them. The magic for me is when you get a street artist who is recognised as a legitimate artist. People like Phlegm who exhibited in Sheffield, this was one of the best exhibitions that I have ever been to”
AF: How did you get back into art as an adult?
DE: It was when my daughter was really young, her drawings were incredible. It got me thinking about my own drawings. I went to night school at Hillsborough College and signed up for a drawing and painting course. I felt like a fish out of water in the first three weeks, I was doing what I had been taught at school, tiny life-like drawings. Then my tutor got hold of my hand and made me draw really big circles and got me drawing really loosely. At the end of the ten weeks, I had really come on and with her encouragement I signed up for another course doing graphic design. Unfortunately, the college could not get enough students to run that course, but had places on their print making course. I loved it from the start and continued onto a second ten-week block. Like many colleges, with funding being cut for adult learners, the course came to an end.
AF: So how did the running theme start?
What I really like about running is finding the rhythm of your breathing and the meditative thud from your shoes. Art provides a similar feeling, so I wanted to combine the two.
DE: Running has been my refuge from the world, I have struggled with mental health and depression. One of my problems is that I cannot switch my brain off, everyone I know who is creative has the same problem, it the price you pay. Running has been my go-to, if I’m having a particularly bad time, it’s not always easy to go out and run, but I always feel the benefits when I do. I have also had the support from Ian and Baz at Art and Minds, based in Killamarsh. I now help out at the centre as much as I can.
Dave runs with the Clowne running club and runs most Saturday mornings at the Rother Valley park run. The theme of his recent exhibition at West Studios was mainly running. With a combination of lino cut prints and photography. Dave’s experimental style is quite obvious with his silhouetted photographs of runners and typography layered over them, using quotes of fellow runners describing what running means to them.
DE: What I really like about running is finding the rhythm of your breathing and the meditative thud from your shoes. Art provides a similar feeling, so I wanted to combine the two. Confidence comes from experimenting with my art, this has influenced my running challenges that I have taken on. I completed a couple of marathons and now enter ultra-events, last year I did a 24-hour race. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do these things a few years ago.
AF: So, you have survived your first solo exhibition and an ultra-marathon, what next?
DE: I want to continue with the running theme, people appear to like that. I like the idea of getting the message out there about the benefits of running, so if I can do that through my art everyone wins. I need to work full time as my artwork doesn’t pay the bills, so I run the occasional weekend workshops at West Studios. I want to develop my Etsy shop, but any sales just go back into buying new materials.
AF: You’ve mentioned Art and Minds, how did you get involved with them?
DE: I donated an old CD rack which I thought would be useful for an art project, we got chatting and they followed me on Instagram and gave me loads of encouragement. It’s another refuge for me, at weekends when I have my daughter we go in and have cup of tea and a chat, mess around with my artwork. Ian is one in a million, he’s worth more than ten doctors, I just love what they do and all the support they give to people.
Talking to Dave has been an absolute pleasure, he has restored my faith in the Art World as it’s not all about exhibitions and making money. We have so many wonderful organisations and talented creative people in our town, they should be celebrated and recognised. If you have an art storey and would like a cuppa and a chat, please contact us at S41 Local.
Dave Elsom contact details:
Art & Minds is a not for profit organisation based at 43 Bridge Street, Killamarsh, Sheffield, S21 1AH