Press release -
Downham Market station transformed into community art gallery
Paintings by Downham Market art students aged from 12 to 18 are now on permanent display at the town’s station for Great Northern passengers to enjoy as they return to rail travel.
The display and installation were funded by the train operator’s parent company Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), who have commissioned over 200 community artworks as part of their network-wide, multimillion-pound station improvement programme.
Downham Market Academy and Athena Sixth Form College each provided five paintings on a botanical theme. They were invited by community and environmental charity Groundwork East, who are working on art and landscaping projects at 18 Great Northern and Thameslink stations in West Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.
Angie Palmer, Head of Stations for Thameslink and Great Northern, said: “Across our network we have commissioned over 200 works by local artists and have made many station improvements to make our stations more attractive for our regular customers and those visiting local communities.
“I am sure these evocative paintings will be very much appreciated and lift the spirits of many. Thanks to the talented young artists for their amazing contribution; they have really done both themselves and Downham Market proud.”
Mark Eastwood, the Academy’s Head of School, said: “Our Art department is a special place within the school where students are encouraged to express themselves creatively and supported to develop their own style and skills. We're very lucky to have a team of staff with different specialisms and artistic talents of their own that inspire our students to create some stunning pieces of work.
“We’re used to seeing these displayed within the school, and now the local community and visitors to the area can enjoy them too. I am very proud of these pieces of work as just a flavour of the artistic flair that we have amongst our student body.”
Rebecca Huggins, Landscape Architect at Groundwork East, said: “It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with the pupils and teachers of the Academy and the Sixth Form College to create these artistic displays. We have been hugely impressed with the proactive and driven approach from staff and students alike.
“Our partnership with GTR is a wonderful opportunity to showcase young artistic talent, and help uplift our local train stations with bright and colourful displays. Working together with our communities to improve local environments in this way is what Groundwork thrives on, and we are so glad this beautiful artwork will be there to enjoy for years to come.”
Notes to editors
Further comments from Downham Market Academy
Diana Turnbull, Assistant Headteacher and Teacher of Art, said: “We are incredibly proud of the artwork our students have produced for GTR’s Portraits of British Wildlife project with the support of the Groundwork team. Each student brought their own interpretation to the theme, and we think this has resulted in a really exciting and vibrant display. Thanks to GTR, both our community and visitors passing through will be able to appreciate the artistic talent of the area’s young people. This is an amazing showcase for the work of students at the Academy and the Sixth Form.”
Kate Andrews, Head of Art for the Academy and Sixth Form, said: “Early on in the project, it was decided to ask students to focus on a botanical theme. Norfolk is rich in plant species, so students easily found their own specimen subjects as inspiration. There is a wealth of beauty and intricacy in plants often unnoticed as we pass by, and students were keen to highlight this. Working on a theme has meant that, while students might choose different media and approaches, the individual pieces complement each other.”
About Groundwork East
Groundwork East is part of the Groundwork Trust, a national network of charities mobilising practical community action against poverty and for the environment across the UK.
For more information about Groundwork East see https://www.groundwork.org.uk/hubs/east/
Groundwork East is managing landscaping and community art projects at 19 Thameslink and Great Northern stations as part of a network-wide improvement programme by the train operators’ parent company Govia Thameslink Railway. Another regional branch of the Trust, Groundwork London, is working at another 19 stations.
About GTR’s wider station improvement programme
GTR’s network-wide, multimillion-pound improvement programme involves over 1,000 projects, many suggested by local passenger and community groups, at more than 250 stations. While we’re working hard to achieve the punctuality and reliability our passengers rightly expect, we want them to know we are with them all the way and making their stations better places to pass through.
The vast number and range of improvements can be described under three themes:
1. Giving many stations a better ambience by redecorating, planting and installing artwork, often with substantial input from the local community
2. Making stations work better for passengers, improving comfort and safety with new waiting rooms and shelters, seating, lighting, information screens, defibrillators for public use, and accessibility schemes
3. Making stations more sustainable, with schemes such as electric vehicle charging points, secure facilities for cyclists, rainwater retention systems, and even bee gardens.
We’ve created dedicated web pages where passengers and local communities can get updates on what’s happening at their station. They can be found at:
At Downham Market, improvements in addition to the community art display include landscaping, new seats and waiting shelter, and new customer information screens.
For more information, contact the press office on 0203 750 2031.
Govia Thameslink Railway
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:
- Thameslink – cross-London services between Bedford/Peterborough/Cambridge and Brighton/Horsham/Littlehampton/East Grinstead, and between Luton/St Albans and Sutton/Wimbledon/Rainham; plus services between London and Sevenoaks
- Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
- Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
- Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria (currently suspended during the pandemic)