I have long appreciated the visual power of old train tracks; when straight and shot head on, they grab and then lead the eye, which can help an artist’s communication with his audience. If those tracks head to a station whose architectural character adds a further layer to a story, then so much the better.
This austere old stop - called Ospizio - is saddled in the majestic mountains in the Bernina Pass connecting St Moritz to Italy. The station is an isolated monolith, gate-crashing one of the great railway journeys in the world. When I first stumbled across this grey and rocky outpost, I felt a visceral surge of creativity. I knew there was a powerful and authentic shot here and I don’t often get that feeling. This is the highest railway station in Europe.
My leaning was to shoot in the winter, as snow would complement the harsh and undecorated grey buildings. The Bernina Pass is surely personified by its harsh winter, not its glorious summer. This is James Bond country.
The proximity of St Moritz in the Engadin Valley below prompted me to contrast the harshness and timelessness of the location with the glamour for which St Moritz has long been famous. The celebrated Norwegian model - Frida Aasen - was perfect for the role and the styling was on point; the railway platform was her 1970s stage. She looked sensational in cold conditions in one of the great mountain passes in Switzerland.
Alone in such an extreme location, we could have been forgiven for playing to a sense of vulnerability, but that was never my direct. She owns St Moritz and she hasn’t even got there. Besides, she has a big old St Bernard to show her the way.
This project was a logistical challenge, but when I see the final print and Frida’s face, it was so worthwhile. This is old Switzerland at its magnificent best. There is nowhere like it.