animate: (adjective) alive, living, breathing, sentient, conscious

arts: (noun, plural) practised skills, as in ‘the art of living’

Animate Arts is a small business owned and operated by Sophia van Ruth, a freelance practitioner based in the Netherlands. The main intention of Animate Arts is to bring people into embodied relationship with their world and to provide tools and support to live and work with ease in a complex world.

Sophia works on various levels to achieve these aims:

Sophia offers shiatsu treatments and seated massage to bring people literally back in contact with their bodies and support them in achieving wellbeing and balance. Click on the ‘shiatsu’ tab for more.

Sophia offers highly interactive workshops and trainings using play-based, arts-based and meditative methodologies to support people in gaining deeper insights into complex problems within their lives or work. Workshops often also include theoretical training on complex systems science. Click on the ‘navigating complexity’ tab for more. She also offers InterPlay classes just for fun and personal wellbeing – click on the ‘InterPlay’ tab for more.

Sophia regularly attends conferences and participates in online peer groups as well as being a core member of a team of InterPlay leaders who organise an annual Leader’s Gathering multi-day residential event for the whole of Europe. She maintains a blog which you can access via the ‘blog’ tab above.

Short Biography:

Sophia van RuthI originally trained as an Interior Designer (but this is a profession I left behind many years ago). I began my career working with Urban Ecology Australia, an organisation dedicated to creating sustainable and vibrant urban environments. During this time I came to specialise in facilitating collaborative design and decision making processes and went on to work as a freelancer in this field in Australia for 10 years. Much of my work focussed on facilitating community involvement in urban design projects.

I am also a qualified massage therapist and shiatsu practitioner. Shiatsu is a Japanese healing art based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. As I immersed in the holistic practices of oriental medicine, my ways of seeing the world began to be transformed. Shiatsu works with broader patterns of health and illness, looking at how a person is integrating into their environs and whether the whole person is functioning in an integrated way. The attitude is to expand our view to see the full context as opposed to the approach of narrowing our view to identify and eliminate specific symptoms only. I now realise that this training was my first encounter with a systems approach.

website-graphics-story-longIn 2007/08 I undertook an MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College in the UK and became captivated by complex systems science. My thesis explored how education could better prepare students for a complex and ever-changing world. This has now become the focus of my work and I have gone on to develop a series of workshops that help people navigate complexity with more ease and confidence. These interactive sessions offer a basic overview of complex systems science combined with a series of embodied practices that help us move between ‘systems thinking’ and ‘systems sensing’. You can find more about these workshops here.

Essentially I see all of my work as focussed on creating health, either on a personal, community or global level. I have always sought to facilitate healthy ways of being in whatever field I was working.


KvK (Dutch Chamber of Commerce) number: 27338428
BTW (Dutch VAT or GST) number: NL7817.03.712.B01