Train Travellers 2012
oil on canvas
Dimensions (H x W x D)
137 x 167 cm
Donated by the artist to the
City of Melbourne Art and Heritage Collection 2021
© Courtesy of the artist
Melbourne-based artist Stephen Armstrong has a practice that encompasses painting and drawing, though it is painting he says that gives him greatest creative pleasure. His subject matter ranges over landscapes, still lifes and figures, but the land and city form the major component of his work. Armstrong claims his compositions are most influenced by Classical and Romantic traditions, the former bringing structure and order to his works, the latter investing them with a restlessness and energy. But the influence of post-impressionism can be also seen operating in some of his expressive and tactile works, figuratively depicting and making sense of the outer world but also gesturing at the inner life of the artist. In painting the world around him, Armstrong prefers to create works 'plein air', directly engaging with his environment rather than painting from reference material in a studio.
This major painting is from a group of works based around the theme of commuting to the city on trains and trams. In contrast to the orderly composition of Armstrong's 2007 painting 'Blue Skies', this particular work captures the often crowded and chaotic experience of riding Melbourne's public transport. Multiple bodies fill the canvas, framed by fluorescent yellow handrails.
Both paintings capture an ever-relevant depiction of something that many of us spend much of our weekday lives doing.