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Sunday, 24 April 2011

Artist John Austin

John Austin is one of my favourite railway artists and two of his pictures, reproduced as jigsaw puzzles, form the basis of today's post, 24th April 2011. He is an Honorary President of The Guild of Railway Artists (GRA) and, to date, has won the GRA's Picture of the Year Award no less than seventeen times; the award in 2010, was his thirteenth in succession. One of John's great strengths is to paint atmospheric pictures of steam icons battling against atrocious weather conditions, particularly on the south west coast, where sea and railway are hardly separated at the best of times. Another of his strengths is to paint scenes involving several steam trains, a subject that demands a deep understanding of spatial awareness and perspective. The two jigsaws I have chosen, reproducing John's work, reflect this latter theme.

My first picture is of the Gibsons' 1000-piece puzzle titled Imminent Departure. This shows two trains at Highley Station on the Severn Valley Railway (SVR) with a third in the background. The two main locomotives are preserved on the SVR. On the left is a class 2, 2-6-0 of George Ivatt, No.46443, heading a short freight train; alongside is BR 'Standard' class 4, 4-6-0, No.75069 of Robert Riddles, heading 'blood and custard' passenger stock.  The third loco in the background is difficult to identify, but may be an 0-6-0 tank type.

Another fine example of a jigsaw showing several steam trains is Cambrian Coast Express, a puzzle of 500 or 750 pieces from Waddingtons. In the picture, a 'King' class 4-6-0 hauls this famous express, and a 'Castle' class 4-6-0 heads another train in the opposite direction on an adjacent line. A 'Grange' class 4-6-0 is also shown heading a freight train while a small pannier tank is shunting in the background. The Paddington to Aberystwyth 'Cambrian Coast Express' operated on the Great Western Railway from 1927, although its origin was in a 1921 service. A 'King' or 'Castle' class loco hauled the train as far as Wolverhampton or  Shrewsbury where a smaller 'Dukedog' 4-4-0, or 'Manor' (later) 4-6-0, took over. The lines west of Shrewsbury, along the Cambrian Coast, could not support heavier locomotives.

Another jigsaw featuring a John Austin painting is Brockhouse Station; this puzzle was described in the 3rd October 2010 post.