The installation of picnic tables into Boat of Garten Station Square comes towards the end of a long journey developing the area, transforming it from a dreary space of old and broken tarmac into the destination it is today, enjoyed by both local residents and tourists in equal measure. Boat of Garten Community Company embarked on the project many years ago, village residents were invited to vote on their preferred interpretation for the area and the scheme was enabled with money from CNPA and the Scottish Government. It is almost complete – just some signage and an interpretive story still to come.
The overall theme was to furnish the square with interpretive elements reflecting the railway heritage and complementing the listed station buildings. This process started off with the involvement of two local artists – Sheena Wilson who came up with the original concept ideas, and Christine Morrison who designed the installation of the artwork depicting letters and postcards received in the village – based on real material, which was collated via a workshop with local people who searched through their attics to unearth these old letters.
There was a competitive tender carried out for all the major works, based on the concepts which had been agreed, and this was won by Michael Job of Black Ox Arts. He provided both the inspiration, fabrication and installation of all the interpretive elements in Station Square – including the emblematic Osprey Feather and the latest installation, the bespoke picnic tables. The Feather itself is constructed by bending an old rail track, donated by Strathspey Railway, and the picnic tables and benches are constructed using railway sleepers and bent railway track for the supporting legs. Michael has inset the letter and postcard artwork into the wooden surfaces of the tables and benches – these were originally inset into the tarmac road surface, but the friction of vehicles resulted in them becoming dislodged, leading to the alternative plan of installing the plaques into the table and bench surfaces.
The idea of letters and postcards from a bygone time was another idea which came from the very imaginative brain of Michael Job! Another sculpture he fabricated for Station Square was that of a horse and cart, which met the train and collected the mail – but a mailbag on the cart has opened up and the letters have blown up the road! That is why they were originally set into the road surface.
Inventory of interpretive elements within Station Square:
- Horse and Cart
- Osprey Feather
- Information Hub (based on an old railway carriage)
- Bicycle rack
- Picnic tables and benches