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Harris Flights presents a marathon challenge

16 September 2013

Lyndsey Boardman

UCLan lecturer turns running passion into art

A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) lecturer has taken on a marathon challenge as part of the Harris Flights project at the Harris Museum & Art Gallery.

Fine artist William Titley ran 26 miles up and down a temporary staircase and around the museum as part of an innovative project that placed a dramatic temporary staircase known as the Harris Flights at the foot of the Grade 1 listed building.

The challenge captured the imagination of passers-by who were intrigued by the lone runner as he completed 45 loops of a one kilometre circuit, which included four sets of staircases, to run the marathon distance in four hours.

“My work often involves the merging of art and everyday life events and for this project I’ve combined my passion for fell running with a desire to use art as a form of social engagement.”

The part-time lecturer, who also co-directs a not-for-profit artist led organisation called In-Situ, commented: “My work often involves the merging of art and everyday life events and for this project I’ve combined my passion for fell running with a desire to use art as a form of social engagement.

“Running a marathon around such a small space was a mental challenge but it was great to be encouraged by visitors to the museum who took a keen interest in the experiment. I had to dig deep at the 18 miles point and stay focused; I was helped along by an old lady in the cafeteria on the ground floor who kept handing me sweets as I passed.

“I completed the final few laps to clapping and cheering and even did a Rocky dance at the top of the Flights to confirm the end of my ordeal.”

William’s marathon run was one of 17 events run by UCLan as part of the Harris Flights project.

“Running a marathon around such a small space was a mental challenge but it was great to be encouraged by visitors to the museum who took a keen interest in the experiment.”

Commissioned by In Certain Places, a programme of temporary public artworks and events in Preston, the four week project began on the 17 August and the Harris Flights allowed people to walk directly into the Harris Museum & Art Gallery from the Flag Market through a new front door, temporarily replacing the balcony and allowing visitors to walk directly into the heart of the building up the steps.

Other highlights from UCLan included setting 40 tables with board games and tea on the Flag Market, a one-day storytelling event with well-known children’s author Alan Gibbons and a performance from the Worldwise samba drummers and other musicians who formed a procession through the space.

University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) Professor Charles Quick, co-curator of In Certain Places, added: “There has often been debate locally about the navigation of the building, where the entrance is and whether the original design was to include steps. This is coupled with a desire to have access to the balcony, and to share the opportunity to see Preston from the viewpoint of the privileged few.”