Published

26 January 2022

The University of East London's Clare Qualmann will take up an international post at the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) next month (February) as part of the US college's prestigious Jedel Foundation Visiting Artist programme.

The Associate Professor in Performing Arts will be joined by fellow academic and collaborator Professor Claire Hind, who oversees the MA in Theatre and Performance at York St John University. Originally, the pair were due to fly to Missouri to deliver the two-week intensive but as a result of the ongoing pandemic they will now run the programme remotely.

Both Ms Qualmann, pictured left, and Professor Hind, pictured right, are Walking Artists and have co-written Ways to Wander, a collection of 54 intriguing ideas for different ways to walk. This was supplemented by Ways to Wander the Gallery: 25 ideas for different ways to walk in and beyond an art gallery (both published by Triarchy Press). Ms Qualmann is also co-founder of the Walking Artists Network, a group which seeks to promote and develop walking as a mode of art practice.

The practice flourished during the Covid-19 pandemic when many were deprived of their usual diet of cultural stimuli. A daily walk offered one of the few opportunities for people to use their imaginations.

"Walking continues to emerge and evolve as an art practice and medium that is used across the visual and performing arts," said Ms Qualmann from the School of Arts and Creative Industries.

"This is an exciting opportunity to connect with Kansas City art students who come from a host of different disciplines, to introduce them to walking as a medium that can be part of the artwork itself."

The Jedel Foundation Visiting Artist is an annual programme to engage students in the creation of new artworks that enhance their educational experience with contemporary ideas. It is delivered by artists and scholars who inform, engage and celebrate topics and practices in contemporary art and culture. Previous Jedel Foundation Visiting Artists include contemporary artists Amy Franceschini and Lode Vranken of Futurefarmers, and visual artist Shawn Brixey.

Taking a walk at Tate Modern

As part of the programme, the two academics will deliver a public lecture, host a series of artists' workshops and create a new piece of work, all framed by the Ways to Wander books.

The pair will take up a one-week residency at Kestle Barton in Cornwall where they will connect with the KCAI students through a series of Zoom events, setting them daily actions designed to awaken their minds through walking, creating, discussion and writing.

Ms Qualmann and Professor Hind will also go on synchronised walks with the students. These will involve carrying out suggested actions such as "walk as slow as you dare", "feel your skin against your clothes as you move" and "step with an irregular rhythm" or feature props and creative prompts such as a map, twig or stone.

Each task will be documented. The experiences and responses will then be used to create a performance piece that will be shared to the public locally as well as being live streamed to Kansas City Art Institute.

At the end of the week-long residency, KCAI students will carry on working from the starting points set by the two academics, using creative walking to inform their practice and studies.

Ms Qualmann said: "It's kind of a takeover of the curriculum at KCAI where students in sculpture, creative writing and social practice will be using our book, Ways to Wander, as a framework.

"It's exciting. This is a great opportunity for Claire and I to share our walking artistry with students from different disciplines. We hope to generate imaginative responses and help students find new ways to trigger their creativity; to show how walking might feed into their creative practice no matter what discipline they are in."

For more information about Walking Artists, visit www.walkingartistsnetwork.org

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