Kate McStraw is a Dorset-born-and-bred artist whose passion is creating work in unusual spaces; taking performance - and more broadly 'arts' - out of traditional theatres and arts centres, to create accessible work which reaches out into communities. Trained as a Costume Designer at Arts University Bournemouth, Kate's roots are in developing performance work which is visually captivating. She has worked as a designer and producer for a variety of projects, including being Assistant Producer for Inside Out Dorset Festival and regularly collaborating with Butterfly Theatre Company as their Creative Producer and Designer on site-specific productions. Most recently she produced an adaptation of The Tempest upon a fleet of boats in Leigh Woods, Bristol, in partnership with Visual Artist Luke Jerram, the National Trust and the Forestry Commission. 

Kate has a devotion to history, her home-county and to bringing creative experiences to a wider community; this project is the perfect opportunity to explore them all. 


All website photography by Chris Rees, © Kate McStraw (unless otherwise stated) 

The Curator Of Memories

Join the Curator of Memories and discover the stories connected with the beloved lost - but not forgotten -  Somerset & Dorset Railway, which used to run from Bath and Burnham to Bournemouth.

Her curious travelling museum houses a collected local history from the glory days of the S&D, ready for you to explore. Find out about the Shillingstone Rose, the infamous Barber of Bath and the WWII Cover Girl, as the Curator of Memories shares her favourite stories with you!

2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the Somerset & Dorset (S&D) railway line closure. The Curator of Memories is a project born out of preserving memories from the S&D, taken from a mixture of archive materials, previously recorded oral histories, and interviews with ex-S&D workers and Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust members, all sharing a passion for keeping the memories and spirit of this beloved railway alive.  

During my research period, I was fortunate to meet with an very inspirational woman, Betty Spiller, who worked on the line as a 'Lady Lamp-man' during WWII. Betty and I talked as much about our shared love for travel as we did about the S&D and her role on this line. She reminisced about meeting her husband - an S&D fireman - and the station's delivery cart being their wedding day carriage; and how she became a cover girl for 'Carry On' magazine to promote the women's war effort. Betty sadly passed away in December 2015. Meeting her was a pivotal point in the creation of this project. Her memories were incredibly touching and I hope through my work I am able to share these local oral histories in a way which will capture the imaginations of many more people. This project is created in memory of Betty Spiller. 

This project has been made possible through support from Quest South West, Activate Performing Arts, Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Funding and the continued support and passion of all those at the Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust