Cumbria Crack

Railway Goes Full Steam Ahead With ‘The Curious Incident of the Stag and the Trainline’

[V]isitors to Western Lake District attraction, the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, will be treated to an amazing spectacle this September as local artist, Sarah Taylor, works with the heritage railway to achieve her desire to make contemporary art accessible to children and families in the area and beyond.

Sarah has worked with the team at Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway to establish at least 10 different locations in which she can install her wildlife-inspired artwork and have it on show between September 8 and 24.

Between those dates, those journeying slowly on the idyllic narrow gauge railway will suddenly come across fabulous and striking wildlife art in the wild, thanks to what is being called ‘The Curious Incident of the Stag and the Trainline’.

The initiative forms part of the C-Art Open Studios event taking place across Cumbria, but is destined to become the most talked about, thanks to the number of people journeying on the trains and the scope that Sarah has along the 7-mile track that give the R&ER the kudos of providing the oldest and longest narrow gauge journey in the Lake District.

As the landscape is so diverse, moving from coastal nature reserves to ancient woodland, and the journey time 40 minutes each way, Sarah could potentially find ideal locations for up to 20 of her incredible works of art and still ensure that they can be spotted.

Whether or not that number is possible will also partly depend on the crowdfunded sums that Sarah can raise, making this a true ‘by the community, for the community’ project.   The current total raised is around three-quarters of the way towards her target of £4000.  The more that people pledge, the more accessible Sarah’s work will become.

Whatever the final number of paintings, those chugging along and being pulled by loco will be delighted to see, at various points en route, huge, vibrant and incredible paintings of eccentric and multi-coloured animals.  At this turn, passengers might spot a badger; at another a fox and, just around the next bend, perhaps even a red squirrel.

If paintings aren’t spotted travelling one way on the line, there’s always the opportunity to find them coming back.  The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway will be providing a spotter’s leaflet for every passenger, a story behind each creature and links that enable digital interactions, making this an amazing example of ‘Art in Extraordinary Places’ – a programme creating trails of the unexpected, based around contemporary art in outdoor exhibition spaces.

Sarah Taylor’s captivating and inspiring paintings each take around 60 hours to complete, with splashing, blowing, drawing and geometric embellishments making each a must-see piece of art.  Passengers at both ends of the age spectrum, and all in-between, will love them, so passengers are advised to have cameras at the ready.

Sarah says: “The Eskdale Valley is set to become an outdoor exhibition space for this exciting project and I have had great fun travelling on ‘The Ratty’ to work out the best places to install each picture.  My wish is to inspire an interest in art, particularly in children, so that they have a desire to observe, learn and try out my painting techniques for themselves.  This project should definitely position art as exciting and open to all and I hope we will generate lots of digital interaction with families.”

Ravenglass and Eskdale’s Head of Marketing and Development, Rachel Bell, says: “Our passengers are set to enjoy a truly unique experience during the ‘Curious Incident of the Stag and the Trainline’, with which we are delighted to be involved.  Our message is that art is not confined to galleries and can find its own backdrop in the world of nature.  There is no better place to prove this than in the beautiful and wild Eskdale Valley.”

Whilst tickets are being sold as normal for travel on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway and are discounted for online purchases made at, the crowdfunding total is being boosted by packages that can provide those pledging money with both family tickets and signed prints of Sarah’s paintings.  A range of different options are available at for those wishing to support this wonderfully refreshing artistic project.

As part of C-Art, Sarah Taylor also has open studio sessions at St Bees School, between 10am and 5pm, on September 15, 16 and 17.

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