National Railway Museum|Wang Fuchun – The Invisible Photographer Exhibition|York

National Railway Museum - Wang Fuchun - York - Tom Sheard

Early last week I was invited to something pretty special. This wasn’t the usual kind of event that I am usually asked to attend so I jumped at the chance. This one was different, hosted in one of the most beautiful locations – The National Railway Museum in York which is completely unique and unlike anywhere you will ever see.

Wang Fuchun - York National Railyway Museum.
Wang Fuchun – York National Railway Museum.

This reason this event was hosted here was because there was a true enigma in town. A man who is a masterpiece within his own field. A brave man who has travelled on trains in China as “The Secret Photographer” for over 40 years. Wang Fuchun had arrived in the UK for the second time to open the Railway Museum’s newest exhibition – One Billion Journeys…

Wang Fuchun for 40 years has travelled on every line in China, think about that for a second… That’s a hell of a lot of hours travelled and even more chance for photo opportunities. Fuchun has captured over 200,000 photos in this time and has many stories to show for it. The way he captures life on these trains is pretty simple. He walks up and down looking for special, natural moments that humans share amongst each other whilst they travel the country by train. He sees and he snaps, quickly in a moment to capture something incredibly special. Wang refers to himself as a “thief” as he steal’s these personal and sometimes intimate moments. This style has not gone unnoticed by the people of China and is not always well received. Wang explained, on more that one occasion he has been punched in the face (much to the amusement of the audience) but this never stopped him creating his art. He has now becoming something of a phenomenon and his work has been noticed all over the world. China now welcome Wang on board their trains with open arms offering him unlimited free travel.

Wang Fuchun - York National Railyway Museum.
Wang Fuchun – York National Railway Museum.

Wang go’s into detail with his photos on just how life on these trains has changed over four decades. Once people stared at the scenery out of the window’s, even hanging their heads out of the window to get the best view however, nowadays people just look at their phones. He explained how trains used to be so packed full and busy and now travel has become more of a luxury with some trains (like the world-fasted Bullet train) becoming even more luxurious than planes.

Wang Fuchun - York National Railway Museum.
Wang Fuchun – York National Railway Museum.
Wang Fuchun - York National Railway Museum.
Wang Fuchun – York National Railway Museum.

My personal favourite was one Wang took of two passengers in an intimate moment whilst on a long journey across China. Wang explained that the two people in this photo were kissing and giggling and hid their faces right after Wang got the shot. He said this was one of the easiest photo’s he ever captured and this has become one of his most popular shot’s across the globe.

Wang Fuchun – York National Railway Museum.

It’s worth noting that Wang Fuchun’s new exhibition is free and features some never before seen photos amongst personally selected classics. What I especially liked was the captions with the photo’s where Wang has left his little comments about how he felt about the people in the photos. It provides you with a little more information of exactly what was going on in that moment.

It’s an interesting sight to see how much has changed over the years on Chinese Train travel first hand from the many moments Wang has stolen. The very notion that this art even exists is quite a nice thought. A little precious moment once stolen in that particular moment will now be showcased for eternity through Wang’s work.

Wang Fuchun - York National Railway Museum.
Wang Fuchun – York National Railway Museum.

Wang Fuchun’s – One Billion Journeys – Free Exhibition at the National Railway Museum. Exhibiting from 24th May – 11th August 2019 in the Gallery, Station hall.

You can read more about this exhibition here : https://www.railwaymuseum.org.uk/whats-on/one-billion-journeys

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