Ambitious artwork steeped in Middlesbrough’s heritage is set to make the town’s railway station the most creative in the UK.
In partnership with artist-led organisation Navigator North, Middlesbrough Council has commissioned eight artists who will celebrate aspects of the town’s rail heritage through a series of striking and imaginative pieces of public art.
The project was launched last year with an open call which attracted dozens of artists to pitch ideas.
Eight artists have now been chosen, all who are based in the North-East, with four from Teesside.
The commissioned artists are Emma Bennett, Ed Carter, Rachael Clewlow, Gareth Hudson & Toby Thirling, Beth Johnson, Keino, Helen Pailing and Adam Shaw.
Each project will offer a local perspective on our shared history of the train station and train travel across the region and will feature a range of bespoke visual art works including:
- A structure inspired by an archive photo of the former ‘Ed Walker and Wilsons’ news kiosk on platform one which will house a printing press that the artist will use to create and exhibit new work that responds to people’s memories of the station.
- A sculptural installation inspired by the entrance of the original Middlesbrough Railway Station which was built in the early days of the town but demolished after 35 years to make way for the current station.
- A large-scale aerial sculpture inspired by the industrial heritage of Middlesbrough that will use Meccano to explore ideas surrounding bridge-making and connectivity.
- A sound and light installation inspired by Middlesbrough’s beginnings as a monastic cell mixing sounds collected by choirs of Benedictine monks in unison with local choirs and the train station itself.
The Most Creative Train Station project will coincide with the multi-million pound refurbishment of the historic station, built in 1877, which will include a new platform and infrastructure and a range of new rail services.
The art works are currently in development with the first commissions planned to be in situ by Spring 2024, with the wider works due to be complete in early 2025.
Cllr Philippa Storey, Middlesbrough’s Deputy Mayor and Executive Member for Culture, said: “We were blown away by the originality, quality and passion for Middlesbrough displayed in the submissions we received from artists.
“Making Middlesbrough Station the most creative in the UK is just one of the ways we’re improving access to art and culture, as part of the funding Middlesbrough Council received from the Cultural Development Fund and a fantastic way to kick off the celebration of the bicentennial of the railway.
“Middlesbrough Railway Station is one of our most striking and historic buildings and I’m excited to see its refurbishment completed, and then how this artwork will interact within the space.”
The programme forms part of a large-scale project to transform several of Middlesbrough’s cultural anchors including the Central Library, MIMA, The Auxiliary and Platform A with support from The Cultural Development Fund, a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) fund administered by Arts Council England.