0
STAFF REPORTER LAST weekend, the Soller Railway shareholders association set the ball rolling for establishing a cultural centre called the Fundació Tren de l'Art (Art by Train), providing travellers with a chance to “journey through the world of culture and art.” The company have recently acquired an early twentieth century modernist building called Can Prunera as well as a building formerly housing a textile factory known as Can Pizá, a move agreed to by nearly 70 percent of the shareholders. Sponsors of the project include local authorities represented by the mayor of Palma, Catalina Cirer and Carlos Simarro, mayor of Soller. The Founding Members of the cultural association will be headed up by Pere A. Serra, owner of the Grup Serra Majorcan publishing house. Work is due to start shortly on the installations of the cultural centre, which has the clear aim of putting the Soller valley well and truly on the map so far as public interest in art and history is concerned. The Soller Railway shareholders believe that the historic stations of Palma and Soller, together with Can Prunera and Can Pizá, will provide a perfect backdrop for their cultural ambitions. According to one member, Vicenç Sastre, “the idea is that the train journey from Palma to Soller should be something more than simply a “ticket to ride.” We want to see a world of art firmly rooted in the history of Soller, and more widely Majorca, opening up to both residents and visitors alike. The venture is, in one respect, a continuation of early moves by the Railway shareholders to link the installations with the art history of the Island. When Soller station first started operating, two halls there were opened with funds donated by the Miró Inheritance Trust and Pere A. Serra, and named after internationally-acclaimed painters, Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso. The location has proved popular ever since with those alighting at Soller station. The acquisition by the Soller Railway shareholders of Can Prunera, a property in calle de sa Lluna, has proved to be a next major step in offering a world of history and culture to visitors. Purchased for nearly two million euros, Can Prunera is considered to be the most important privately-owned building on Majorca to date from the early twentieth century modernist period. Right from the time when “Art by Train” was still a project on the drawing board, the company made it clear it wanted to put the property at the disposition of local authorities for the setting up of the art foundation. Innovative plans will enable the building to be turned into a manorial museum, something which the local council would have been unable to achieve on its own. Added momentum is given to the long-term aims of the shareholders by the second acquisition, Can Pizá which is situated in calle Isabel II. An emblematic building, the property reflects a traditional style of building rooted in the history of Soller valley which is in danger of disappearing. Hence, the foundation project has a double edge to it: that of bringing to life the rich tapestry of Majorcan art and culture, and that of maintaining its architectural heritage which would otherwise be lost to posterity. In the words of Javier Mayol, the president of the Soller Railway Board, the “Art by Train” scheme confirms major support by the company for Majorca, and in particular the area of Soller. Mayol, who spearheaded the project along with Pere A. Serra and Vicenç Sastre, was keen to see a ticket price system in place which would prove to be a major tourist draw.