Arts and Culture

Manchester artist creates live marathon mural while runners race

The streets of Trafford were flooded with runners gearing up for the Adidas Manchester Marathon on Sunday morning but one figure was readying herself for a very different test of endurance.

Tucked away in the Emirates Stadium beyond the finish line, much-loved Manchester muralist Venessa Scott set up her paints and easel, blissfully unaware of the growing throng of over 28,000 participants beyond.

Scott was commissioned by Adidas and Human Race, the marathon sponsors and organisers, to paint a live mural by the time everyone had reached the finish line. 

She took to the canvas with her trademark bold shapes and colours, taking the marathon runners as her muses. 

Scott said: “The piece is called ‘The Finish Line’. It’s inspired by the athletes as they cross the finish line and all the wild things they do with their body to celebrate.” 

She spent an hour watching footage from last year’s marathon, paying close attention to the movement and gestures of the runners, she told Mancunian Matters.

“The biggest thing is hands on head – I guess it’s like ‘I can’t believe I’ve just done that’,” she said.

“There’s a lot of tears, there’s a lot of holding hands where people were running together and it’s just really moving.

“A lot of my pieces are about the human connection, so that’s why I based it off that.” 

Venessa Scott’s mural ‘The Finish Line’, photo: Charlotte Hall

After just over three hours of painting in a marquee in the cricket stadium, the jubilant figures taking shape on her canvas were echoed in the world around her.

The first athletes crossed the finish line, pouring into the stadium, which hosted the marathon’s ‘event village’ – with drinks, food, music and Scott’s mural station.

The piece also features a nod to the sponsors, Adidas, with three blue stripes running through the left-hand panel.

Scott is a full-time artist and creative educator who features on the CBBC series ‘Colours’. She also runs a non-profit with her sister called SevenThreeOne, where she works to help rehabilitate serving prisoners and ex-convicts through art.

She is best-known for her 38 metre design on Trafford House, which was inspired by women’s rights pioneer Sylvia Pankhurst and is one of the tallest murals in the UK.

Chris Atkinson, Human Race’s Head of Marketing, said: “We wanted to work with a local artist to capture the marathon, its supporters and volunteers.

“Venessa’s art immediately captured our attention. Her work is vibrant, inclusive and so perfectly captures movement. We are delighted that Venessa is working with us to create such a memorable piece and helping us celebrate the amazing local art scene and talent of Manchester.”

The piece will likely be donated to a gallery later this week.

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