Walking Publics/Walking Arts is a research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council exploring the potential of the arts to sustain, encourage and more equitably support walking during and recovering from a pandemic.

the image shows two women in headscarves walking through an urban community garden
Nomadic Community Gardens, East London from Maggie O’Neill’s walk with Clare Qualmann for the Walking Borders Project

Publics and Creative Walking1

Walking and arts play a role in sustaining and improving physical health and mental wellbeing.2 Recent surveys indicate that people across the UK walked more during COVID-19 and aspire to walk more after the pandemic.3 Our research will help us understand how people experienced walking and how their experiences might have changed over the pandemic. We also want to know about the creative walking activities that people have created or encountered, ranging from stone trails and window decorations, to chalked pavements and I-Spy, and the impact of these on the experience of walking.

Walking Artists

The research also wants to understand how artists from across the UK have used walking as part of their artistic practice, adapting existing work or using walking as a resource for the first time during COVID-19. What can we learn from artists and how can their expertise be shared to support more people, and more diverse people, to enjoy walking? Collaborating with artists, we have developed a free online resource, The Walkbook: recipes for walking and wellbeing, responding to the challenges people have experienced in participating in walking. 

Bridging Walking and Art

Organisations drawn from across walking and culture are partnering us in this endeavour. We hope that our research will help us understand how creative walking activities have been and could be used to mitigate isolation and anxiety, maintain health and wellbeing, enhance social connectivity, and facilitate cultural participation and empowerment. Creative walking may be a very valuable resource for both walking and cultural organisations, helping them support and engage more people.

Resources we will create

The research which emerges from this project is being shared through the #WalkCreate Gallery, a digital showcase of work made using walking during COVID-19, The Walkbook free digital publication, Walking Art Commissions, and an end of project Walking Summit in May 2022. As these resources are developed, we will add them to this website.

If you would like to be kept informed about our project, please email us at walkcreate@glasgow.ac.uk  

1 Our definition of walking is inclusive of all kinds of bodies and includes wheelchairs, mobility scooters, walking aids or other technologies to help Disabled people and anyone with mobility issues to move around.

See Walking for Health (2013); What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? (2019)

3 Walking and cycling statistics – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk);  a_year_of_life_under_lockdown.pdf (ipsos.com)