The Train Track and the Basket arrives at Paragon Interchange

Published: Monday 10th April 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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Claire Barber is the latest artist to contribute to the Look Up series, with her installation The Train Track and the Basket.

The art encircles the main entrance and exit of Paragon Interchange and is really quite striking.

“My work is partly inspired by social narrative painting made at the time of transmigration, which captures loss, lament and excitement at a new beginning,” Claire tells us.

“It explores the idea of looking at what people take with them on a journey, both as luggage and in terms of their culture and craft skill.”


The installation is on display for the duration of the Roots and Routes season, which celebrates the city as a gateway to Europe.

The Train Track and the Basket is also part of the Look Up programme, which has brought us Nayan Kulkarni’s Blade, Michael Pinsky’s The City Speaks, and Chris Dobrowlski’s Washed Up Car-go.

More than two million people arrived in Hull by ship from mainland Europe between 1848 and 1914. Many of them then moved on to transatlantic ports such as Liverpool and Southampton via train.

Claire’s work explores this example of transmigration and the belongings, new skills and techniques that the people brought with them, such as basket weaving.

“They adapted their techniques to the materials available to them in a new country. There are a number of basket weaving patterns and skills in North America today that can be traced back to northern Europe.”


Made from digitally printed vinyl panels, the piece stretches across all fourteen of the large arched windows in the entrance to the station.

Claire walked along train platforms to capture images, and the photographs are joined together like a fibre through the whole work.

The piece is quite a sight to see as you enter and leave the city via the historic Paragon Interchange.

“I am very interested in communicating textile processes diagrammatically, and their fusion with the sequential documentation of train tracks,” Claire explains.

The windows also reference plants and seeds that migrate along the tracks, as well as the final destination of many of the passengers.


“The work explores the creative combination of two seemingly disparate objects, the basket and the train track, to relate to this period of transmigration through Hull from 1836 to 1914.”

Hull’s railway station is the perfect venue for the artwork. It has a constant movement of people that mimics the basket-making process:

“Individuals weave in and out, carrying luggage that reflects who they are,” adds Claire.

The artist has always been interested in the relationship of textiles and fashion with mechanics and migration.

In 2012, she worked closely with her colleague Steve Swindells to publish Mining Couture. This book investigated the strong links between fashion and mining.

Last year, Claire received her degree in Doctor of Philosophy by Publication for her work entitled Cloth in Action: The Transformative Power of Cloth in Communities.

The Train Track and the Basket can be viewed at Hull Paragon Interchange for free until Saturday 29 June simply by looking up.

There’s also a Hull UK City of Culture 2017 information pod in the centre of the installation, offering help and suggestions.


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Published: Monday 10th April 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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