Falmouth Fine Art student creates Paddington station mural celebrating railway wildlife
10 May 2023
A new mural at London Paddington station, highlighting the diversity of habitats and creatures found along rail corridors, has been created by MA Fine Art (Online) student Cindy Powell.
Commissioned by Network Rail to promote its commitment to protecting wildlife, the mural project came about through the Collaboration module Cindy has undertaken as part of her studies.
Originally from South Africa and now based in Wiltshire, Cindy moved to the UK in 2019. With an ambition to take her art practice to the next level, she jumped at the opportunity to study online for a master's in Fine Art.
As she explains: “Being on the master’s at Falmouth really did open the door to this project. I was chatting to a lady at an event who turned out to be Jane Austin, director of engineering and asset management at Network Rail. She was impressed by my work, and so when I was sourcing a partner to work with for the Collaboration module, I went back to her. She was open to hearing my ideas for the mural and took them to the right people. If I hadn’t been doing the master’s at Falmouth, I’m not sure if my work would have carried as much weight.”
Conservation has always been at the heart of Cindy’s practice, making her an ideal artist to collaborate on the project. “The concept for the mural grew from a previous idea I’d had around wildlife becoming still life,” Cindy tells us. “I talk a lot about conservation in my work, and I’m very interested in raising awareness about animals on the critically endangered list, as well as encapsulating the joy that wildlife can inspire.”
Located near the entrance to the Hammersmith and City Line in London, the mural itself is a large-scale print combining five of Cindy’s oil paintings depicting an array of British wildlife in a surrealist style. Originally 60cm by 75cm, the paintings were professionally photographed and printed scaled up to create the finished mural. “It was a new way of working for me and has opened my mind to lots of future possibilities for projects utilising photography and print alongside my painting practice,” Cindy explains.
Falmouth’s online master's in Fine Art has a large cohort made up of students from almost every continent, and Cindy says she relishes being part of a big online community of artists. “It’s wonderful. Before starting the course, I was worried that studying online might feel quite isolating, but it has felt surprisingly communal. Although I haven’t met anyone in person, we are very supportive of one another, and have got to know each other very well through our weekly webinars and WhatsApp conversations.”
The Network Rail commission is just the start for Cindy, who aims to channel the confidence she has gained on the course into pursuing further professional projects. As she puts it: “Making art is something I’ve always done, and I can’t live without it. Once I graduate, I aim to focus full-time on making art, and as I am already starting to find paid opportunities, I may be able to make a living as an artist sooner than I think.”