Art that embraces a new future for St Pancras

A young couple stand locked in an embrace on a station concourse, oblivious to the travellers milling around them as they mark a moment of departure or arrival. It is a scene repeated daily around the globe but few such brief encounters are nine metres tall, weigh 20 tonnes and are cast in solid bronze for the edification and orientation of 50 million rail passengers.

This is the design for a towering sculpture that will form the centrepiece for the new £800m St Pancras International station in central London. Unveiled today, the artwork is part of an overhaul for George Gilbert Scott's high-Gothic masterpiece that will see fast food restaurants rejected in favour of gourmet eateries and a farmers' market.

Entitled The Meeting Place, the £1m sculpture by British artist Paul Day will tower over the southern end of the new Eurostar terminus as a rendezvous point for the 50 million people who will pass through the station every year when it reopens in November.

The design, which will also have a bronze frieze with scenes from the station's 139-year history, was chosen over other versions showing the couple in a full-blown snog. But while the gargantuan couple will be unmissable, its creator is ready to answer critics who may suggest its naturalistic style, complete with a rucksack and high heels, is not at the cutting edge of British art.

Mr Day, whose previous commissions include the Battle of Britain monument on London's Victoria Embankment, said: "This is not an art work that is going to be selected for the Turner Prize. It isn't a Damien Hirst sculpture of a pregnant woman stripped down to the constituent parts. It is diametrically opposed to that sort of art. It isn't about a cynical world view or the artist's glory.

"Some will say it is a chocolate box sculpture. But I don't want it to be bound by the prevailing view of art. Meeting Place is an appeal to universal values."

The artist, who lives in France with his French wife, Catherine, said the sculpture also embodied the meeting between the Gallic and Anglo-Saxon worlds that will take place as Eurostar trains from Paris and Brussels arrive at the restored Victorian train shed.

The unveiling of the design, just four months after it was commissioned, comes as the final stages of the 10-year renovation of the station come to fruition.

London & Continental Railways, the owners of the terminus, which had the world's largest single-span iron roof when it was completed in 1868, said they want to restore it to its former status as one of central London's key venues.

The Midland Grand, which occupied the vast Gothic edifice that made the station famous, was one of the capital's most glamorous hotels before it fell into disuse in the 1930s.

A renovation of the hotel will be part of a wider makeover that will also include a vast champagne bar, a gastropub and a permanent farmers' market similar to Borough Market in south London. A spokesman said: "We want the new St Pancras to be a place where people come to meet and spend time."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Sport
Harry Kane
premier leagueLive minute-by-minute coverage
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin