On the right track with rail art project

Sheena Berry (left) and  Maureen Sangster with their posters at  Kirkcaldy Railway Station
Sheena Berry (left) and Maureen Sangster with their posters at Kirkcaldy Railway Station

Two Fife artists and writers who were inspired by the poem ‘The Boy on the Train’ have staged a unique new project.

Maureen Sangster (59), from Kirkcaldy and Sheena Berry (63), from Kinghorn were inspired by the 100th anniversary of the poem by Mary Campbell Smith, which highlights a boy’s train journey to Kirkcaldy, to embark on a collaboration taking the Fife Circle line as its subject.

They came up with the idea of a series of conversations featuring famous and everyday characters from history, all taking place at stations along the circle line. These include Adam Smith; King Alexander III; Mary Queen of Scots and riggers building the Forth Rail Bridge.

These are published in a booklet – Circle Line ConversTations – accompanied by a series of colourful artwork on local themes at each of the stations on the Circle Line, as well as North Queensferry and the Rail Bridge itself.

The two women spent two months travelling around the various stations and researching the places, people and events which had significance to them. They spoke to local people and staff in the stations to help develop their ideas, and made sketches along the way.

Two paintings are in the process of being put up at each of the stations along the route, one being a watercolour design and the other cartoon drawings with a conversation text.

ScotRail has been involved from the beginning when Maureen and Sheena approached the company with the idea, and it has covered the cost of printing the large posters and putting them up in aluminium frames at the stations, as well as providing complimentary tickets for the artists to travel around the Fife Circle for their research!

Maureen explained: “We are both absolutely delighted with the project which started off as a vague idea that we wanted to do something to mark the centenary of ‘The Boy on the Train.’

“We had an incredible amount of very positive support and encouragement throughout the process from ScotRail and particularly John Yellowlees, the external affairs manager, who made the fruition of the project possible.”

Funding also came from Fife Contemporary Art and Craft, and the booklet, priced £6.50 is available from Kirkcaldy Galleries and Harbour Arts & Crafts in Aberdour. It was launched at Kinghorn Community Centre on Friday night.

Mr Yellowlees added: “This is the first celebration of the Fife Circle as we know it today, and ScotRail are delighted that Sheena and Maureen have created a depiction of the characterful people and places that make it a route whose stations speak so clearly of the regard with which they are held in their communities.”