Train stations express the excitement and sense of potential of a journey in a way that airports sadly fail to do. It has something to do with their age - the sense you get of so many previous generations having started journeys - and something to do with the grandness of their architecture.
St Pancras station, London. The Gare (now Musee) D`Orsay in Paris. The Maranouchi side of Tokyo Station. And so on.
No wonder artists over the ages have been inspired.
The sense of grit and purposefulness in Monet`s St Lazaire.
The intriguing story in Manet`s The Railway Station; what is the lady with the open book and lapdog thinking? And the little girl with the blue ribbon with her back to us. She is staring out at the smoke which promises the excitement of future trips perhaps, but held back for now by the implacable iron bars, painted in stark verticals in Manet`s favoured black.
And the Victorian bustle in Frith`s painting of Paddington Station.
One of my favourite places in New York City is the main concourse at Grand Central station.
This cavernous space measures 275 ft long, 120 ft wide and - forming an azure canopy 125 feet above - there is the wonderful astronomical ceiling frescoed with the constellations.
If you have time on your hands you can hang out at one of the bars or restaurants that occupy the mezzanine spaces at either end of the concourse. Have a cocktail. Meet a friend. Watch the people below.
The last time I was there I took a series of photographs, trying to capture the particular atmosphere conveyed in that strange pale yellow ochre half-light where the urgency and noise of several hundred hurrying commuters is absorbed by the vastness of the space.
When later I looked at these shots I noticed in one of them what looks like a bride and groom. Look above and you can see them in the bottom right of the picture, facing each other, holding hands. It doesn`t seem to be posed. There were no other photographers around at the time. Apart from the portly gentleman to their left who has perhaps glanced in their direction, they are unnoticed by all. In their own little world. Reminds me of Auden`s `Musee des beaux arts` : "Everything turns away quite leisurely....and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen/Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky/Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on".
This inspired me to start a painting. I`ve yet to finish it, but I do feature the mystery couple. Hence, "Wedding at Grand Central Station". The figures take time and are fiddly (and I`ve got the perspective wrong with a few of them - can you spot the 8 foot tall Amazonian with the handbag and traveller case, mid-left?!) but I hope I will get back to finishing it before too long....