Gabor Stark

East Kent Railway
The Friendly Army

Gabor Stark is an architect, educator and artist living and working in Berlin, Germany and Whitstable, Kent.

Gabor studied architecture at the Technische Universität Berlin and the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow and co-founded the Berlin-based practice tx – büro für temporäre architektur in 2000. Focusing on the temporal and programmatic aspects of urban transformation processes the research and design agenda of tx comprises regional development, urban regeneration, participatory planning, temporary uses and programmatic urbanism. Realised projects include the Wriezener Freiraum Labor (Open Space Laboratory), the community-led conversion of a disused railway site into a public park in Berlin-Friedrichshain.

From 2000 to 2005 Gabor taught architecture and urban design as a guest lecturer and assistant professor in Berlin. Since 2007 he teaches as a senior lecturer at UCA Canterbury School of Architecture, where he runs the MA Urban Design course and the postgraduate research and design studio SYN City.

Gabor has published, exhibited and lectured about his work in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Greece, Cyprus and the UK. Under the working title precarious propositions he explores the liminal space between architecture and art. In 2013 he won the first prize in the international design competition Worlds of El Lissitzky with his portable monument to the Russian architect and artist El Lissitzky and the German art historian Sophie Lissitzky-Küppers.

Associated Museum: The East Kent Railway

Associated project: The Friendly Army

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East Kent Railway

East Kent Railway (EKR) is a short heritage railway located at Shepherdswell train station, operated entirely by volunteers and once part of a large network of coal mines. It was constructed by entrepreneur Col. Stephens and between 1911 and 1917 was used to serve local coal mines and transport munitions during the war. Visitors are today able to ride on restored heritage trains between the Dover villages of Shepherdswell and Eythorne. The EKR visitor centre is located in the original signal box on the Shepherdswell station platform, featuring the original station controls, a model of the railway’s last mainline station, and information boards detailing the history of the railway from its formation in 1911 to its closure in 1948. There is also a working miniature railway. Its current collection of WW1 objects includes a Royal Navy torpedo wagon and a powder magazine transporter, as well as barbed wire, cap badges and army records of goods transported in and out of Kent via the railway.

Further information can be found at: http://www.eastkentrailway.co.uk/

Associated Artist: Gabor Stark
Associated Project: The Friendly Army

The Friendly Army

The Friendly Army consists of six sited sculptures that trace the historical connections of the East Kent Railway to the First World War and mark the thresholds and crossings between the remaining line and its surrounding landscape. The sculptural pioneers guard and survey the tracks, visually re-establish the former links with the East Kent collieries, and guide visitors and passers-by along a sequence of selected stations and situations. Constructed out of materials found on site the sculptures were built together with the EKR volunteers. The Friendly Army was permanently placed at EKR Eythorne in spring 2016.

Dragoon

The sculpture is inspired by the war horses that were transported on the East Kent Railway line to Hammill (Woodnesborough) Colliery during World War 1. Shortly after the outbreak of the war the Hammill site was taken over by the Army for a cavalry remount unit, and horses were stabled in the colliery buildings before being deployed to the front. In total, more than one million British horses were sent overseas and just over 60,000 returned. Dragoon also alludes to the heraldic dragon of the Buffs Royall East Kent Regiment. Many of the fallen commemorated on the war memorials in the towns and villages in East Kent served with the Buffs in the First World War.

Cross

The sculpture translates the EKR crossing signs along the tracks into three-dimensional elements. Placed along Shepherdswell Road at the first farmers crossing after the Golgotha Tunnel, it alludes to wayside and conciliation crosses, and pays tribute to the war memorials in Shepherdswell, Eythorne and other villages in the Dover District.

Tower

The vertical form of the sculpture is derived from the chimneys and headgear structures of the collieries that were served by the East Kent Railway. During World War 1 miners were employed to tunnel and plant explosives beneath enemy lines. Tower is placed along the public footpath, which leads walkers along the remains of the collieries and mining villages of the East Kent Coalfield.

Organ

Owing to the strategically important connection to the London-Dover main line the East Kent Railway was taken over by the Army in both, the First and Second World War. Mounted at the farmers crossing in Eythorne, Organ recalls the muzzles of the Howitzer railway guns that were stationed at the sidings at Eythorne and Shepherdswell in World War 2.

Receiver

The sculpture references the sound locators that preceded radar technology. Acoustic location was used from mid-WW1 to the early years of WW2 for the passive detection of enemy aircraft by picking up the noise of the engines. A few remaining concrete sound mirrors can still be found along the Kent coast. The two metal tubes of Receiver are EKR water pipes and date from the 1910s. They originally connected the water well to the storage tank in The Knees woods at Shepherdswell, and lead to the water towers along the tracks. The pipes now act as listening devices channelling the ambient soundscape at Eythorne Station.

Pegasus

The winged sculpture takes its inspiration from the German airplanes that flew via Shepherdswell to Dover during the last Moonlight Raid on England in the night of the 19th to the 20th of May 1918. The statue is placed on the surviving brick abutment of Wigmore Lane Bridge, which once continued to Tilmanstone Colliery. Pegasus marks the northern end of the remaining East Kent Railway line.

Associated Artist: Gabor Stark
Associated Museum: East Kent Railway