I have been very excited and proud to see my ‘Visit Exmouth’ posters up at various stations as I have travelled by train this summer. Thank you to Exmouth Festival and the panel for organising the project and commissioning me to design three posters; throughout the process I have had positive feedback, advice and support. Now that the project has ended, here are my thoughts.
- I had regular contact and support from the Exmouth Arts Manager, who fed back positive comments from the panel
- Deadlines were realistic and met
- Working with the designer, I was very pleased with the final text and layout
- Successfully promoted: the posters gained a lot of publicity, including articles in local press and railway magazine and a feature on BBC Spotlight
- Daisi were supportive and well organised; they advertised and secured a booking for the school workshops at short notice
- Three workshops took place at Beacon C of E School, Exmouth. The teachers and children were enthusiastic and fully engaged. The children were really interested in the ideas behind the project and created imaginative, sophisticated and bold posters.
- The exhibition launch at Exmouth Library was well attended and supported. The Library Manager informed me that many members of the public had seen the display during the Festival week and made positive comments
My starting point for this project was my curiosity about who used the Avocet Line and what type of activity they enjoyed on a day out at the seaside.
1.To create bold, contemporary images that are accessible and fun-
- I depicted a wider range of people than the original posters, which mostly featured glamorous women; for example, Dad playing with his sons, children paddling, birdwatchers
- I painted simple, free seaside activities in recognisable locations – paddling near the red cliffs; playing on the beach near the clock tower on Exmouth seafront; bird watching and kite flying on the grassy slopes at Orcombe Point
2.To create images that are playful and are a contemporary response rather than a pastiche
- I painted in bright colours with simplified backgrounds echoing the style of the originals; I outlined the figures to create a graphic and contemporary look
- I created characters based on sketches and observation, in naturalistic poses
3.To talk to and engage with passengers to find out about why they were travelling
- I met and spoke to fellow train passengers, observing what they were carrying (buckets & spades), asking what they liked about a day out at the seaside. I met a couple who told me the best place to go bird watching and what to see; I spoke a mum and son with their bikes on the train, they were going to cycle on the new track from Topsham to Exmouth
4.To inspire children to think about the history of railway posters
- I discussed with the children how people would know what a holiday destination might look like 100 years ago, pre-internet; what was special and different about Exmouth that would attract visitors and look good on a poster; what type of image would work on a big poster seen through a train window or on a busy station
- The posters were displayed at stations beyond the Avocet Line, including Taunton, Newton Abbot and Plymouth and were potentially seen by hundreds of travellers.
- The launch and subsequent exhibition at Exmouth library reached a large non-art gallery audience, many visitors wanted to buy posters/postcards to take away
- Interest from local galleries, shops and Exmouth Council & Tourist Information in selling smaller poster copies and postcards. There are plans to get a set of posters/postcards printed to sell locally – possible outlets include Thelma Hulbert Gallery and Inc in Exmouth
- My artistic practice has developed – I managed my studio time with research and documentation, exploring several ideas before arriving at the final images
- I gained valuable experience: working with a local authority arts project, commissions and contracts; working with the press officer, being interviewed and photographed; collaborating with a graphic designer; working in a school setting; presenting my work at the launch; developing contacts within Exmouth Library and Council; writing a blog