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 9-meter tall bronze statue of a man and woman in an intimate embrace. This monumental sculpture was produced by Paul Day and was first placed on display 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 all and is large enough to be instantly recognized from the other end of the station, looking back towards the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.
Lovers meeting under a railway station clock is a classic scene so the hope was for this sculpture to be a universally recognized symbol of a couple reunited.
Development and Criticism of The Meeting Place
The sculpture is better viewed from afar, not least because it has received immense criticism. But it is still worth going up close to see the frieze running around the base.
Added a year later, and rather aptly described as a blend of M. C. Escher and Tim Burton, the base of the statue encompasses a high-relief frieze which depicts scenes from the history of Tube and train travel and different meetings.
The artist compared these images with the airport scene in the film 'Love Actually'.
"At the airport scene, when you get all the characters together and suddenly the doors open and out come the people that have been away and you get all sorts of meetings and people being reunited. I think that is an interesting slice of life and in a way the relief around the base has to be a rich tapestry about people getting together again after being apart. All separation involves a suspended moment when one wonders is this forever?"
That frieze was actually changed substantially from an earlier more controversial design that could have included a train crash - a bizarre choice for the venue. 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 7 July 2005 bombings in central London. Day explained that,
"Tragedy in art is about creating hope out of drama, through the beauty of the image but also by going beyond the image."
There are also a huge pair of sunglasses which 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 hulking blemish in a stunning building? It is not universally admired by Londoners but you can make up your own mind.