Wednesday, 11 March 2009
Space and Time
Space and time, as well as being one of the The Verve's finest songs, are two things which are very important to we modellers. When trying to hold down a good job and build a career time is often is short supply. As a newly wed (which I think is still the correct term as we're still in our first year of marriage!) in our first house I am only too aware that time is such a precious thing.
Space too is something which is at a premium - in a house most people never have enough space, regardless of how big the house is! However Suzi and I are fortunate to have been in a position to get a decent sized house for our first house. Not that there's a layout in it - Botanic Gardens and Eastmoor will be taking up a lot of my modelling time for the foreseeable future! Although the house is a very good size, there's no 'spare' room which would be able to house a 'decent' sized layout without severe compromise. This is true of many people's domestic circumstances and as a result it has almost forced people to think creatively about how to make the most of their available space.
Two people who are well known for this skill are Chris Nevard and Neil Rushby. Both are masters of making the most of the available space.
Catcott Burtle is the work of Chris Nevard. The scenic section is only five feet long, yet Chris has managed to give the layout a wonderful sense of space and openness. The back scene is seamless which aids the illusion of space no end and being photographic doesn't have any funny looking trees or lurid green hills to distract you from the scene. This back scene contrasts with the highly detailed foreground and along with the use of light colours enhances the feeling of space.
Neil Rushby is another expect of the minimum space. I'd also say he's very much the minimalist too. I remember his Synchant Mineral Tramway which appeared in British Railway Modelling and at one of their first shows in Doncaster - I recall being totally absorbed by the layout. Shell Island is much smaller than Catcott but it too has a feeling of a large open space. The track plan is very simple and there isn't actually much in the scene, but as the viewer you accept this and this makes you feel the layout is much bigger than it is. The result is very effective and despite its very simple layout, it is rather fun and relaxing to operate!
The one thing which I think makes the layouts work, in addition to their creators obvious ability to compose a very convincing scene, is the very high quality of the modelling involved. This takes a lot of time to convincingly pass off.
I must confess is that my I want to have large layouts when it comes to my own personal aims; Class 60s on long oil trains and North Eastern Railway locos taking long goods trains slowly and steadily by spring to mind. Whatever form these ideas ultimate I'm not exactly sure though. However, I just hope that I could get somewhere near their standard of realism - well I can hope, but I am but a mere mortal!
One thing which does interest and intrigue me me is how those who are expert at producing such wonderful scene and layouts in small spaces is how they would approach a much larger layout given the opportunity. Recently Neil Rushby has moved on to such project and the way he has approached it is very interesting indeed.
'Project X' as it was known for a while is a wonderful project. Set on the North Wales coast it shows how the thinking which brought Shell Island to life can be applied to a much larger project. Neil's layouts seem to have all followed a 'less is more approach' and this is no exception. I was very lucky to see the layout in its early stages when I was in Wales last year. This layout provides a way to see how a similar approach can be applied to layouts of all sorts of sizes - this was emphasised by Morfa and Shell Island being in the same room. Neither layout is packed full of track nor every square inched filled with buildings, people or vehicles. I think Morfa has the chance to be one of the truly great layouts which will be remembered for a very long time.
While I go away and work out how I might possibly get my modelling anywhere near their standards I'll leave you with one more image of Catcott as I'd also be interested to see how Chris Nevard would deal with a larger expanse too.
If you have time (which we know is very precious!) it's worth following the links in this little ramble to see how their work is progressing.