Rania Stephan, Train-Trains (Where's the Track), 2003. Courtesy of Rania Stephan
Closely Watched Trains

CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS is an on-going screening programme, which we initiated in summer 2017 with a screening of short films by Rania Stephan (b 1960), Robert Breer (1926-2011) and Artavazd Pelechian (b 1938) – featuring train lines or journeys in Lebanon, Japan and Armenia – alongside Basil Wright’s Night Mail (1936) – scripted by WH Auden and with sound by Benjamin Britten.

The programme takes as its starting point our location adjacent to Cample Viaduct, which serves the Dumfries to Glasgow main line. Built in 1851 with its construction overseen by Cample resident  and engineer James Deas, the viaduct is a beautiful and defining structure, along which goods and passenger trains continue to pass. Cample Mill was once sandwiched between two lines: the main line and the now-absent mineral line that once operated through Cample, bringing stone down from nearby Gatelawbridge Quarry. Over the course of the programme, we will reflect on the cultural power trains continue to hold for us, the nature of the journeys we make and experience by rail, and what the presence or indeed absence of a ‘line’ or a ‘stop’ might mean for us.

The title of the series – Closely Watched Trains – is something of a tribute to the novella by Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal (1914-1997), first published in Czech in 1965 and re-published in English by Penguin Classics in 2017, twenty years on from Hrabal’s death.

Summer 2018 will see the third iteration of the programme – Surrender Your Ticket: screenings over 3 days, which include films by Nika Autor, Viktor Turin, Rania Stephan, Sompot Chidgasornpongse, Wes Anderson and Martin Scorsese.



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