Words and illustration by Anna Koska
We're all defined by lots of things really, and writing a bio I could put a heap load of waffle down. But to keep it tight.. and truthful…
I'm an illustrator, and I'm a forest runner.
I started running in the forest for lots of obvious reasons, like health, no gym membership, and convenience (it's on my doorstep).
But it's become clear that it goes beyond the obvious.
Through forest running I have rediscovered something utterly amazing that I thought I’d lost forever in my old school satchel. I have become reacquainted with a desire to know, to learn, to dream big. As each foot falls on deer carved pathway, my mind begins to loosen from the ties that bind it to the usual rhythms of work/home life. And with this uncorking of my stuffed, distracted and chattering head, there appears a space. It doesn’t really seem to matter what my feet are doing, how my ankles are adjusting to rock, mud and shale, whether my quads are aching or whether I’m picking an errant gnat out of my eye. The head space remains accessible, available. So I find my mind wandering freely through new questions, new curiosities, fresh and dewy plans.
And amongst all this cerebral stuff that’s going on, my eyes are drinking in this extraordinary and ever changing theatre of the forest. The colours range for Monet to Van Gogh, depending on season and light. This light can play tricks on the lower canopy, transforming it into the biblical burning bush. Shadow can create a moving form that seems to race a pace behind me. One late Winter's afternoon, the light dipped so quickly that I became disorientated. Flicking on my head torch I suddenly became aware that I was moving parallel with silent-running deer. 14 or more sets of eyes blinked back at me. My heart leapt with the shock, and the thrill.
Running in the forest and through its seasons is perhaps the most extraordinary and innervating aspect of all. If I was just to talk about the changes of the scent and quality of the air (if I could write with a “scratch n sniff” app it would help): the dry bite of Winter's icy air sucked into lungs; the first whiff of pig manure, pulled across on a northeasterly breeze from a farmer’s field as Winter subsides; the punchy honeyed smell of warmed Spring bluebells; the damp earthiness of the freshly watered forest floor; the drying pine needles underfoot as we slip seamlessly (hopefully) into Summer.
I’m sure that this state of mind and visual theatre could be priced beyond any gym membership, but no-one’s managed to make it an exclusive ‘members only’ club yet. This is a relief. It means that we can all join, any time, for free.
You can see more of her pencilship at www.annakoskaillustration.com/ and read her tweets at @gremkoska