LivingTravelThe meeting place at St Pancras station

The meeting place at St Pancras station

The Meeting Place is at St Pancras International Train Station, but it’s not just a designated place to meet friends at the station. The Meeting Place is a 30-foot-tall bronze statue of a man and a woman in an intimate embrace. This monumental sculpture was produced by Paul Day and was first exhibited in 2007.

The 20-ton bronze sculpture is a solid focal point amid the comings and goings of a busy station. It should reflect the romance that train travel once meant to everyone and is large enough to be instantly recognized from the other end of the station, looking towards the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.

Lovers meeting under a railway station clock is a classic scene, so the hope was that this sculpture was a universally recognized symbol of a reunited couple.

Development and criticism of The Meeting Place

The sculpture is best viewed from afar, especially since it has received immense criticism. But it’s still worth getting up close to see the frieze running down the base.

Added a year later, and aptly described as a cross between MC Escher and Tim Burton, the base of the statue encompasses a high relief frieze depicting scenes from the history of subway and train travel and various gatherings.

The artist compared these images to the airport scene in the movie ‘Love Actually’.

“In the airport scene, when you gather all the characters and suddenly the doors open and the people who have been away come out and you have all kinds of meetings and people gathered. I think it’s an interesting part of life and in a way, the relief around the base must be a rich tapestry about people reuniting after being apart. All separation implies a suspended moment when one asks, is this forever?

That frieze actually changed substantially from a more controversial earlier design that could have included a train accident – an odd choice for the location. But the artist says the frieze features other depictions of life on the railways, including soldiers going to war and emergency workers dealing with the aftermath of the July 7, 2005 bombings in central London. Day explained that

“Tragedy in art is about creating hope from drama, through the beauty of the image, but also going beyond the image.”

There’s also a great pair of sunglasses that Day says are supposed to be a metaphor for the way people’s imaginations run wild mixing fiction and real life.

Is The Meeting Place a beautiful capture of romance or a grand stain on an impressive building? You are not universally admired by Londoners, but you can make up your mind.

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