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By March 11, 2024March 13th, 2024Member News & Updates

WHEN: Thursday 7th March
WHERE: Exeter, Exeter St David’s Train Station
WHO: Exeter UNESCO City of Literature, GWR

A permanent installation of new artwork will be unveiled on World Book Day at Exeter St David’s
station to celebrate Exeter’s UNESCO City of Literature status.

The artwork, created by local artists Billy Ruffian (an artist alias of Isabel Keen) and Jack Ratcliff,
honours Devon’s rich literary history and is supported by Great Western Railway’s (GWR) Customer
and Community Improvement Fund. After a private unveiling on Thursday 7th March – World Book
Day – the artwork located on the footbridge and lift footbridge will be accessible to commuters
travelling through Exeter St David’s.

Inspired by Devon’s great writers and literary locations, the artwork features scenes from timeless
works of literature by authors such as Michael Morpurgo and Agatha Christie, as well as familiar
places and faces from around the region, including students of Exeter College and St. Martin’s
Primary School, staff from the NHS and Libraries Unlimited, scenes from books by Philip Reeve and
Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Exeter City of Literature team.

Anna Cohn Orchard, Executive Director of Exeter City of Literature, says: “This artwork
celebrating Devon’s rich literary heritage epitomises Exeter City of Literature’s belief that words
create worlds. Isabel and Jack’s extraordinary designs bring authors’ worlds to life and honour the
creativity of the writers and people who live here. I’m incredibly grateful to GWR for helping us
memorialise Exeter’s UNESCO City of Literature status in such a vibrant, imaginative way.”

Artist Isabel Keen (aka Billy Ruffian), says: “I’m so excited to see our work in the station. Some
of the books I based panels on are very important to me, and it was a joy to draw them. It’s been
lovely to explore new places in Devon and meet lots of interesting people as part of the project. It’s
given me a deeper understanding of my home’s literary history and how it intertwines with the lives
of people here.”

Artist Jack Ratcliff, added: “This project has been the opportunity of a lifetime. Getting the chance
to immortalise some of my favourite works of literature and celebrate the many incredible and
beautiful aspects of Devon’s cultural heritage has been truly joyful. I’ve never felt so connected to
the history and people of my home county as I have done through engaging with the communities,
individuals, and works we’ve featured in this artwork.”

Robin Barrington-Best, GWR Station Manager for Exeter St David’s, says: “It has been a real
honour to welcome the artists here today to help unveil their work. We hope it will help inspire a new
sense of excitement in customers as they travel through the station on new adventures.
“GWR’s affiliation with the county’s literature dates back nearly 90 years and is something we are
very proud of.”

The artwork installation at Exeter St David’s train station is part of a continued relationship between
Exeter UNESCO City of Literature and Great Western Railway. Last April, a Penguin Books
vending machine was installed at the station thanks to a partnership between Penguin Books, Exeter
UNESCO City of Literature, and GWR. Clare and Michael Morpurgo officially unveiled the
machine with remarks from Clare about her father, Sir Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin Books.

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