Local artists on right track with railway artwork

Twelve bold new pieces of artwork have gone on display at Hartlepool railway station designed by Cleveland College of Art and Design (CCAD) graduates Abigail Taylor and Owen Smith.

The designs show popular Hartlepool landmarks, including the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Greatham Beck, the Heugh Battery Museum and Hartlepool Marina.

Abigail and Owen’s work was selected following a competition arranged by Hartlepool Borough Council and CCAD. The winning designs have replaced posters that had been in place since the 2010 Tall Ships Race. The new boards have been financially supported by a number of Hartlepool Councillors, Grand Central Rail and CCAD.

Freelance artist Abigail Taylor, said: “Owen and I wanted to portray a colourful picture of Hartlepool at its best. The 1930’s to 50’s were not just the heyday of railway posters, but sometimes considered the golden age of advertising and graphic art in general.

“We worked with photos and sketches to create rough collages, in pursuit of the scenic compositions of the golden age of railway poster art. We drew from the colours of Norman Wilkinson’s lithographic prints to inspire our palette, characterised by scenes of rural tranquillity and permanent sunshine. Artist Frank Mason was actually born in Seaton Carew so we paid a lot of attention to his work in particular.

“Owen and I are absolutely thrilled to see our work on show and we hope local people and visitors to the town alike will enjoy seeing the twelve designs for many years to come.”

Owen added: “It was surreal when we first saw our artwork on display at the station. The largest we had seen the artwork until that point was as A3 printouts, so we took the train down to Hartlepool to watch the artwork being mounted, and in the end were able to help the guys putting the posters up.

“We were incredibly pleased to be giving something back: having studied for three years at CCAD’s Hartlepool campus, we regard the town with a growing fondness and nostalgia. Healthful Hartlepool, as it was affectionately and modestly coined on an advertisement we found gracing an alcove in the Museum of Hartlepool; it’s a place of modest beauty that will always be special to us.”

Owen now works full time as a creative designer for LemonTop, a design studio and creative agency based in Darlington, and Abigail is currently a graphic designer at Baltic Training Services. As well as taking on freelance commissions together, entering competitions and working as a team, Abigail and Owen hope to develop their freelance business as artists and are exploring the possibility of creating similar commissions for railway station around the country.

Patrick Chapman, Head of Employability and External Relations at Cleveland College of Art and Design, said: “CCAD was very pleased to co-sponsor and help organise the competition to find new artworks to adorn the gateway to the town.

“The images of Hartlepool they have developed are beautiful and striking – they met our brief exactly, echoing the tradition of railway posters from the last century whilst capturing the essence of contemporary Hartlepool.

“Abigail and Owen are very talented designers and it is great for them to have this wonderful and highly visible showcase for their work.”

The new artwork is located on the second platform and the Friends of Hartlepool Station helped prepare the area by undertaking a clean-up whilst the boards were installed by Council staff.

A3 and A4 prints of the new artworks are available to purchase at Hartlepool Art Gallery priced at £4.00 and £2.50 respectively. Other merchandise will also be available in the near future.

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, Leader of Hartlepool Council, said: “The new artwork looks great and provides a stunning welcome to the town. Hundreds of thousands of visitors pass through the station each year and this is a way to showcase some of the great attractions on offer in Hartlepool.

“The new artwork also complements the bespoke Coast tourism film that is played on a widescreen TV in the station, along with the Coast mural that was put in place in 2016.”

Mike Anderson, Secretary of the Friends of Hartlepool Station, said: “We were delighted to be able to perform a clean-up of the area prior to the installation of the new images. The first impression for a visitor arriving in a town is often formed by their view from a railway carriage. Future passengers can now enjoy clear and uninterrupted views of the impressive artwork on display.”