Most Creative Train Station Artists Commissions

Middlesbrough Railway Station, exterior view. Photo Credit Rachel Deakin

Navigator North has been appointed by Middlesbrough Council to deliver a programme of artists residencies and commissions which aim to make Middlesbrough the most creative train station in the UK between Summer 2023 and Spring 2025.

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.

Between 2021 and 2023 Navigator North developed and managed Celebrating Hidden Middlesbrough, part of a national £2m High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) programme funded by Middlesbrough Council, Historic England, Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery Fund. 

Penumbra by Bethany Hunton. The Tunnel Gallery, Middlesbrough. Photo Credit Rachel Deakin.

That programme included a series of commissions for The Tunnel Gallery at Middlesbrough Train Station, alongside place-based artist residencies and commissions that invited artists to respond to the history and heritage of the HSHAZ and a High Street Project Space – The Masham on Linthorpe Road.

The Most Creative Train Station commissions will link to FORGED – a public art programme developed in partnership with Tees Valley Combined Authority and its five boroughs and delivered by Navigator North and Middlesbrough Art Week until 2026. 

Artist commissions in delivery include –

  • Adam Shaw – ‘Kiosk’ is a structure inspired by an archival 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.
  • Ed Carter – ‘Transient’ is 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.
  • Helen Pailing – ‘Connection’ is a large-scale aerial sculpture inspired by the industrial heritage of Middlesbrough using Meccano to explore ideas surrounding bridge-making and connectivity.
  • Gareth Hudson & Toby Thirling – Will create 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.
  • Emma Bennett – Is exploring the heritage of the textile called moquette which has been traditionally used to upholster railway carriage seating. Using colour coding, design and pattern making inspired by this, Emma will interpret the architectural features of the station building itself.
  • Rachael Clewlow – ‘Tees Colour Register’ is a large scale installation using light and colour, informed by a series of performative train journeys taken by the artist, across the entire Tees Valley rail network.
  • Keino – ‘Comic Connections’ is a large-scale, full colour sequential art pieces using a graphic novel/comic format to celebrate the historical, geographical, cultural and personal connections made possible by train travel.
  • Beth Johnson – Will create a bold, large scale, publicly co-created artwork made from used train tickets, connected and embellished with threads that bind together people’s journeys, stories and memories.

Read the February 2024 Middlesbrough Council press release here