Hit or Miss - Train trouble

St Pancras pulls controversial artwork after complaints.

Photo: Paul Day
Photo: Paul Day

St Pancras station ran into controversy when it revealed plans for an artwork depicting a man falling in front of a train driven by the Grim Reaper. After the Samaritans and the train drivers' union both complained, the London and Continental Railways (LCR) decided to install the sculpture without the frieze. Liz Anderson of spectator.co.uk wrote: 'It beggars belief that anyone ... could have thought (the frieze) would be appropriate.'



The first lesson in this is surely the importance of communicating internally. That the LCR chief executive Rob Holden was only made aware of the sensitive nature of the work commissioned by his own company after it had raised vehement opposition from charity and union groups - resulting in a high profile and most likely expensive cancellation - leads one to question quite how it got to that stage. There are those who would argue in favour of the controversy leading to greater awareness of the St Pancras installation and its commitment to art and the visitor experience, but it is also an example of that controversy backfiring and being ultimately damaging to the continuation of the project.


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