Savinder Bual at Didcot Railway Centre


Project Info


  • Savinder Bual


  • Didcot Railway Centre
  • Arts&Heritage
  • Arts Council

As part of Arts&Heritage’s Meeting Point programme, artist Savinder Bual has created a film installation on show at Didcot Railway Centre, which will also be streamed online in September. The Train Effect is inspired by how, in 1840, the Great Western Railway introduced ‘Railway Time’, meaning a single, standardised time was used on its line, and subsequently across railway stations in Great Britain.

“The installation is about our relationship with time, using the history of the railways as a framework. The railways were instrumental in shaping our modern perception of time and I want to use them to prompt people to think about time from different perspectives.” – Savinder Bual

The Train Effect shows Didcot Railway Centre’s engine turntable, which measures 18 metres in circumference, being turned by hand by a series of the museum’s volunteers – who can usually be found driving the restored engines. Filmed from above using a drone, viewers can see steam locomotive No.2999, ‘Lady of Legend’, rotating like the hands of a clock. 

Lady of Legend is a recreation of the type of locomotive which would have been seen on the Great Western Railway between 1902 and 1953 and was built using a combination of surviving parts from other Great Western Railway locomotives and new components.

“By showing that a small action by just two people can create an immense change – in this case, moving a 130-tonne engine – I want to show that we have the power to renegotiate how we think about time.

Not only do we need to take a longer-term view of how we think about ‘now’ and ‘the future’, so we can look after the planet for future generations, perhaps we should also be focusing more on the natural cycles which were replaced by standardised time.” – Savinder Bual

Clive Hetherington, Chief Executive of Didcot Railway Centre, said:

“Savinder’s installation is hugely relevant to the site, to the people who visit and to our many volunteers who run the museum and restore and drive our locomotives. I hope it will surprise people and stretch their imaginations.” 

The Train Effect is on show in Didcot Railway Centre’s original 1930s waiting room, where visitors wait to board trains running on the centre’s two lines. It is on show until 4th September 2022, and will then be streamed online.

Didcot Railway Centre is a former Great Western Railway engine-shed and locomotive stabling point located in Didcot, Oxfordshire, England, which today has been converted into a railway museum and preservation engineering site.

The Artist

Savinder Bual is an artist whose practice explores the interplay between the moving and the still. She creates works that sit between the pre-cinematic and the digital. Bual studied painting at Winchester School of Art and photography at the Royal College of Art, London. Since then her work has screened and exhibited widely, including Turner Contemporary, Wimbledon Space, Focal Point Gallery, Peer Gallery, Standpoint, Caraboo Projects and CCA Glasgow. She received the Arts Foundation Futures Award 2022 in Animation and is a recent recipient of a Jerwood Bursary.