Page last updated at 13:32 GMT, Sunday, 12 October 2008 14:32 UK

Station bans train death artwork

The Meeting Place sculpture
The frieze was to form the second part of The Meeting Place sculpture

An artwork depicting a person falling to their death in front of a train will not be displayed at London's St Pancras Station.

The image, commissioned by London & Continental Railways (LCR), was to be part of a bronze frieze by Paul Day.

One of two scenes of a platform reflected in a pair of sunglasses showed a man in front of a train driven by a skeletal Grim Reaper figure.

Train drivers and families of suicide victims condemned the piece.

Mick Whelan, district organiser for train drivers' union Aslef, said: "We thought the image was entirely inappropriate.

"Some drivers are never able to return to work after these types of incidents and there is also the fact that the artwork would be close to the site of the King's Cross fire.

The image of the driver as the Grim Reaper also conveys the wrong image to the travelling public
Mick Whelan, Aslef

"The image of the driver as the Grim Reaper also conveys the wrong image to the travelling public and does not instil confidence."

The bronze relief featured other railway-related images, including soldiers going to war and emergency staff attending victims of the 7/7 bombings.

A spokesperson for London & Continental Railways, which owns St Pancras, said: "The frieze as originally suggested will not go ahead and work on it has stopped."

He said it was possible an amended section could be created to replace the sunglasses image.

The sculpture was due to be installed on the plinth as the second part of The Meeting Place, the 30ft (9.1m) sculpture of a couple embracing, which was unveiled at the station last year.

Mr Day, 41, who lives in France, said he hoped there would be a way forward because the sculpture would not be complete until the frieze was added.

I am not an artist who seeks to shock
Paul Day, artist

He said: "I welcomed constructive criticism to make my work more appropriate and powerful.

"I have always been open, honest and transparent.

"I am not an artist who seeks to shock."

He said the sunglasses image was created in a tragi-comic style and was supposed to be a metaphor for the way people's imaginations ran wild.

He added: "The overall reaction was intended to be thought-provoking and ultimately uplifting," he added.

"The whole relief is about railways, people and journeys.

"I trust the public to be intelligent enough to appreciate the way in which the images were intended."


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