Fear and Fascination is a new exhibition at the National Railway Museum in York, offering the public a chance to admire some of the oldest railway art. The exhibition highlights the contrasting feelings towards the new railway technology in the 1800’s, from the fear of the journey itself, the destruction of the English countryside and its beautiful landscape, to the fascination with the quick and easy travel.
This is a collection of over forty pieces on show, from cartoons to paintings to drawings, all representing the public’s opposing feelings towards the transport.
The art ranges from beautifully detailed images of the mechanical constructs of the railway, emphasising its enormity and engineering techniques, to calming harmonic pictures, aimed to reassure and show the safety and efficiency of the railway.
With new railway plans for a shorter commute between Birmingham and London, cutting through beautiful countryside and quiet housing areas, this exhibition is relevant to current issues. Engineers, commuters and politicians are torn between the need for speedy travel and picturesque landscapes.
The Museum’s Art Gallery is a new addition to York’s thriving cultural hub, opening in July 2011. This is the Gallery’s third exhibition, with each showcase exhibiting the Museum’s unseen art collection and other railway-inspired art from around the world.
The National Railway Museum has an extensive collection of art, from 1,500,000 photographs, 1,052 paintings, 2,358 prints and drawings to 11,222 posters. What makes their collection so awe-inspiring is that most of the art has never been displayed in public. It is largely unseen, making the collection even more covetable.
Two more exhibitions have been lined up for 2012, the first a display of holiday posters through the decades, the second a winter exhibition showcasing the winter season and the effects on the railway system. In the first you can expect colourful, light-hearted images getting you in the summer spirit and the latter will take you through the seasonal changes in a vibrancy of colours, from the autumnal golds and reds to snow white winter scenes, depicting weather impacts on the railway, from past and present.
The Fear and Fascination exhibition opens on February 11th until 13th May 2012, with free admission to the Museum and Art Gallery.