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Paul’s an internationally renowned sculptor

Internationally renowned sculptor Paul Day’s work is enjoyed by millions every day. From his statue The Meeting Place in St Pancras station, to the Battle of Britain memorial in Victoria Embankment (pictured-photography by Paul Day), his sculptures are an integral part of the landscape around the world.

Paul studied at the Gloucestershire College of Art, a predecessor college of the University of Gloucestershire, and left in 1991. He studied at Pittville campus for two and half years. After winning a sculpture competition at college, he gained his first commission, designing a garden sculpture for author Jilly Cooper and her husband Leo at their home near Bisley, Stroud.

“I also had an exhibition at the Cheltenham Museum and Art Gallery,” he said, “so decided to stay on for a while before moving directly to Burgundy in 1993, where I still live today.”

But it was very nearly a different story, as his initial application was rejected. After studying in Dartington for six months, he thought he would try again. “I phoned to see if anyone had dropped out from painting, and they said no, but a space had become available in sculpture. So I hired a car, went for the interview, and they gave me a place. It was a real coup to be accepted I was elated, it had been my first choice. For me, it was a brilliant experience, though not without difficulty as I wanted to learn figurative art, but it wasn’t in fashion at the time, I wanted someone to teach me how to draw and model from life.”

Paul found his tutors and peers, with often strong and differing opinions, created an enriching and stimulating experience. “I worked really hard,” he said, “no societies or pub for me, I just worked until I got kicked out at 8pm. I got in at 6.30am every morning to earn some money cleaning, so I could pay for the bags of plaster I was using. I learned practical skills like bronze casting and how to make moulds, as well as developing the grit and determination to turn a childhood fantasy of becoming an artist into a reality.”

And whatever path you choose, Paul believes that art can be a way to solve problems in all aspects of life. “I think if someone feels in some way called to pursue a creative career or just give it a go, whatever one does in life, being able to grapple with problems and try and find solutions which is one of the things that fine arts teach you. I think these skills can be applied in every field of human endeavour. My advice is to be happy in an environment which can be disagreeable and agreeable so that we can learn about others and respect opinions.”