The National Railway Museum has lifted the lid on the much misunderstood hobby of Trainspotting with the launch of its September – March Trainspotting season.
The focus of a preview event was the opening of art installation ‘Parallel Tracks’ in the Gallery. The commission by acclaimed artist Andrew Cross, who was selected from a field of over 120 artists, presents the experience and method of trainspotting in a new and contemporary way.
This is a new direction for the York-based museum however, those in search of nostalgia will not be disappointed. Forty Spotter Stories, many of which fondly recall days gone by, will be on display during the season.
These tales from the tracks have been selected from the 300+ stories submitted to the museum as a result of its April appeal.
Attendees to the opening weekend ‘Shed Bash’ can also steep themselves in nostalgia with the chance to get hands on and ‘cab’ locos in the collection associated with the heyday of schoolboy spotting including Western Fusilier, Evening Star and King George V.
They can also share their anecdotes as part of the Spotter Stories sharing session, where those that want to talk about their trainspotting adventures with like-minded people can relive the sense of mischief and anticipation associated with the pastime.
As long as there have been railways, they have inspired artistic creation. In addition to Andrew’s art commission, a new poem by Ian McMillan commissioned in response to the Trainspotting theme ‘Love Me Tender’ will also be on display at the museum entrance.
The scale, noise and drama lend themselves to powerful prose and Ian’s new work talks of ‘a story of numbers, and tales, of epic encounters on days wreathed with steam’ and of ‘parents and kids on an endless quest.’
Amy Banks, Exhibitions Manager at the National Railway Museum added: “With our trainspotting season we’re exploring the past and present of the pastime – collecting and documenting, adventure, travel and mischief, the sense of anticipation and the drama of the train arriving.
“Our art commission, ‘Parallel Tracks’, by acclaimed artist, Andrew Cross, looks at the subject from an international and contemporary stance. Our Spotter stories co-curated by well-known poet, Ian McMillan, help visitors of all ages understand the strong allure of spotting.”
Tobias Lumb, Head of Public Programmes at the National Railway Museum said: “A love of railways often connects the generations and many of the stories were received from the public in the run up to our Trainspotting season have talked about passing the hobby on from father to son, or in some cases; father to daughter.
“With trainspotting firmly lodged in the nation’s psyche as an activity for men clutching notebooks on station platforms, we wanted to challenge people’s perceptions of the hobby through a full programme of family-friendly activities, talks and celebratory events like Saturday’s Shed Bash.
Families can experience the adventure and anticipation associated with trainspotting with a variety of fun activities including Great Hall and Station Hall trails and theatrical performances by street theatre troupe Platform 4 during the school holidays.
The museum’s popular Locos in a Different Light event, part of the city wide Illuminating York festival, will also use artistic interpretation to explore the mischief, and drama of travelling the tracks and sneaking around stations and engine sheds to cross off the final number on the list.
Visitors can see a selection of the best ‘spotter stories’ brought to life in our Great Hall with amazing colour and lighting. This year’s event, the museum’s sixth annual lighting competition, runs from 29 October-1 November and is another example of the railways’ ability to inspire.
Trainspotting runs from 26 September 2014 – 1 March 2015 at the National Railway Museum. The project is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
For more information visit www.nrm.org.uk/trainspotting.