|2001-Materials: Wooden box, model train loco and box car, model railway track, oil paint, record player, 78 record. Music: 'The Happy Wanderer' sung by the 'Obernkirchen children's choir'.|
When I was still an art student, I was sent to Poland by my half Polish sculpture tutor on a research trip. I went by train but it was 1990, before the Channel tunnel had been completed. The boat train took me to Harwich where a ferry took me to Holland. In Hoek van Holland Haven train station there was a multi-coloured train made up of several different train company liveries from all over Europe. Each section of carriages were to be uncoupled as they reached their country of origin on our journey across the continent. I walked down the long platform until I found a railway carriage with ‘Warsaw’ written on the side. Further down the platform there were even carriages going to the Soviet Union.
Ten years later, in 2000, I was invited to be part of a sculpture trail in Hoek van Holland -'Kunst over de grens' ('Art crossing the border'). On a brief visit there I had to choose a location in the town and make an appropriate art piece for it. The international trains had stopped running some years earlier but the long empty platforms remained. It was here that I proposed to make my work. The empty eerie platform had a history and allure of far off distant lands but for me it also had a personal connection.
My father’s family had been deported during World War Two from eastern Poland to ‘Siberia’ by Stalin’s NKVD police during an ethnic/political cleansing operation in 1940. The family were transported in box cars and although they were repatriated to Poland after the war they never went back to their original home, which still remains part of Russia to this day.