Thursday, August 20, 2020

On Trains and Going


On Trains and Going was the name of my first Railway Lands show in 1999 at the Owens Art Gallery in Sackville, New Brunswick. Though the title at first suggests the state of being on board a train and traveling, I meant the phrase metaphorically to suggest how the train as a temporal marker, embodies the action of going. As a boy of eleven or twelve in West End Halifax I would often pass hot afternoons and the long evenings of summer under the Mumford Road railway bridge smoking cigarettes scrounged from the Eaton’s parking lot waiting in the cool oil soaked shade for trains to go by. I use to wonder where the people in the sleek black and grey coaches were going. I tried to look in the windows for faces, but never saw any, just polished glass reflecting back the scrubby pine horizon and sky. The train was a profoundly mysterious object. All I knew about it was its destination, Montreal. That train is going to Montreal, I though to myself. I could see the zebra striped locomotives in my mind charging ahead as they cleared Bayers Road Bridge in the hazy distance and turned out of sight at Rockingham on their way around Bedford Basin. What lay beyond the Basin, I had no idea and my imagination failed me, just endless, epic miles to Montreal. Some day I knew that I would take that train and all would become clear, but I knew instinctively once I went and was going, that I would be an adult and could never go under Mumford Road Bridge again to wait for trains.

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