50 things Richard Bolam did before he was 50 – #20 Completed the Karrimor Mountain Marathon #bolamat50 #bolam365 #50things

Where's bolly graphics v2.036-001

More than once.

My friend Gary Bacon (aka @fatgazbo) introduced me to the outdoor life 30 years ago. One of the many things we did together was the Karrimor International Mountain Marathon (KIMM), now known as the Original Mountain Marathon (OMM).

Although neither of us were ever in danger of winning anything, it was still no mean feat for two fat lads from Rotherham.

Where's bolly graphics v2.037-001

It’s actually a lot of fun if you choose the right partner, and on the two occasions that we competed in genuinely extreme weather we still had a great time.
If you want a laugh, have a look at this video of the “morgue” conditions in 2008. We were there and it was certainly extreme, but the tv people had to search pretty hard for anyone looking even remotely distressed.

The following day, before we could drive away, Gary and I bumped into two very comfortable looking gentlemen who had been taken in at a nearby luxury outdoor centre and drunk the bar dry. The two of us had returned to Gary’s car and spent a very pleasant night in dry clothes, eating as much as we could.

Where's bolly graphics v2.038-001

Gary still does it every year with his son, but I’ve retired.

50 things Richard Bolam did before he was 50 – #19 Completed a traverse of the Cuillin Ridge #bolamat50 #bolam365 #50things


Sgurr MhicCoinnich from Sgurr Alasdair Cuillin ridge northwards from Sgurr Alasdair. Photo: Ronnie Leask

I have hundreds of photos but they are from my pre-digital days and are all yet to be scanned. In the meantime, here is one I found on Wikimedia Commons.

I went to Skye several times in the 1990s and it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The Cuillin Ridge is like an adventure playground for climbers and walkers.

50 things Richard Bolam did before he was 50 – #18 Took his clothes off in public #bolamat50 #bolam365 #50things

50 things graphics.015

Kind of.

Here I am (see below) getting semi-naked in a video I made back in 2007. It was genuinely an exercise in video edit to see if I could make myself look as good as Kylie Minogue.

I know it sounds a bit too neatly conceptualised to be true, but it is. I had noticed that promo videos of some performing artists were cut very energetically and I realised it is a conscious technique to make the artist look more physically dynamic than they really are. This is in no way a criticism of the small but perfectly formed Kylie Minogue, but I also noticed the same thing about Girls Aloud.

If you look at Beyoncé’s videos, there is no shortage of athletic bumping and grinding. But she is a professionally trained dancer. “Single Ladies” is a truly astonishing work all around in terms of performance, production and edit (apart from that crappy masking).

However, the truth is that many of these people are chosen more for their looks than their raw talent, and most of them are not necessarily “movement professionals”.

I selected myself and don’t necessarily satisfy any of the above criteria. However, I’m a pretty good video editor and, in the words of Steven Spielberg, “it’s all there on-screen”.

50 things Richard Bolam did before he was 50 – #17 Made generative art #bolamat50 #bolam365 #50things

50 things graphics.014

For those of you not familiar with the term. generative art, also commonly called algorithmic art, is art where some sort of automated process is involved. In my case it has mostly been screen-based, graphical images created by computer programs. However, the genre can include a wide variety of techniques involving rule-based systems.

Sol Lewitt is the art academic’s go-to guy for rule-based art and produced a huge body of work in his lifetime, much of which lives on in the form of instructions on how to reproduce the art.

I don’t do Artspeak, but if this is still not clear, here are some examples you might have seen.

Universal Everything’s “Forever” is a constantly changing motion graphic that never repeats. I don’t know what the tech is, but the moving images are created on-the-fly.

There are many others, but Frieder Nake’s work also impressed me, some of it from before I was born.

My own attempts are nowhere near as sophisticated or well-funded, but I will be showing an example of work I made in the late 1990s, re-worked and re-presented at Access Space, Sheffield, UK for the launch of my year-long retrospective.

HyperScape X poster #1 v1

50 things Richard Bolam did before he was 50 – #15 Traveled #bolamat50 #bolam365 #50things

Screen shot 2014-03-19 at 20.12.13

HyperScape I at the Malmö Konsthall in 2004

Well, traveled a bit. New York is the furthest West I’ve been and Cyprus is the furthest East. Back in 2004 I was hosted in Malmö, Sweden by digital arts organisation Electrohype at their biennial. At the time I thought that this was just the beginning and that my next stops would be Stockholm, London, New York, Berlin and Tokyo.

Well, I am still waiting for that invitation to Stockholm, but I live in hope.

I may never get paid to be an artist in Tokyo but Japan is the place I want to visit more than any other so I may have to pay for that one myself.

Offers welcome.

50 things Richard Bolam did before he was 50 – #14 Read some books #bolamat50 #bolam365 #50things

50 things graphics.012

Not so many in recent years, but when I was a teenager I educated myself at the public library. Having heard many authors’ names that did not appear in my comprehensive school curriculum, I searched for them in Rotherham library in the 1980s.

Authors I discovered at that time include Gustav Flaubert, Joseph Conrad, William Burroughs and Harlan Ellison.

Flaubert’s “Three Tales” was a revelation to me. Both “A Simple Heart” and “Saint Julian, Hospitator” are heartbreakingly moving. Conrad’s “Victory” is a terrifying story of amoral folly, and Ellison’s “I have no mouth and I must scream” is a dystopian vision to die for.