Our mission is to create the first dedicated rail line dedicated to contemporary art in Europe along the Ipswich – Cambridge rail line.
Smiths Row is a charity dedicated to contemporary visual arts, craft and design based in Bury St Edmunds. Since 1972, we have provided a much needed resource for artists, makers and audiences through exhibitions, commissions, events and training across the East. Our work has provided opportunities for artists at pivotal moments in their careers such as Caroline Achaintre and Haroon Mirza alongside award-winning emerging artists Henry Driver and Clare Price.
To enrich and connect artists, rail and the public we are planning an exciting move to work along the Ipswich – Cambridge rail line firstly at Stowmarket station then at Bury St Edmunds. This would engage a greater and more diverse audience for the visual arts and rail through events, exhibitions, artists’ studio and related activity whilst developing some of the much needed facilities for passengers.
The Station Master’s Houses in Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket are both grand Victorian buildings in the façades of the railway stations. They have been empty for up to 20 years and need extensive restoration on the inside. The restoration and community use of railway buildings has the added benefit of reducing anti-social behaviour and improving passenger's feelings of safety.
At Bury St Edmunds Station our plans are to open up the Station Master’s House to the public and rail users by creating a gallery, craft and design shop and office space on Platform 1(towards Cambridge), artists’ studios on the first floor and at ground level a workshop space and garden for our work with community groups, in particular children and adults with learning and physical disabilities. A wider partnership with the train operator would use art to improve facilities for rail users all along the Ipswich to Cambridge train line, increase tourism and create employment for local companies including creative industries.
Since April 2016, we have been based in a project office space in Bury St Edmunds Guildhall building. Much of our work currently is ‘behind the scenes’, researching and developing the project. Currently our work involves building relationships with key stakeholders, forming partnerships for the future, meeting with artists and similar organisations, fundraising and creating a strategy for long-term sustainability.