Ice men still scoring after 16 years

Matt Foster and Mat Chaloner

As the World Cup gets under way two of the UK’s most successful commercial ice sculptors have a very unusual reason to celebrate every four years. In 2002, young Sunderland student Mat Chaloner created a life-sized Subbuteo model of England legend David Beckham and his then baby son Brooklyn – and changed his life forever.

Mat Chaloner and Matt Foster launched Glacial Art in 2006, four years after they both graduated with degree in Model Making and Design at the University of Sunderland. Their business, ice sculptures for corporate events, birthdays, wedding and even film sets, has been phenomenally successful, with clients including Bentley, Jaguar, Sony, Gucci, Rolex and Adidas – they even created a life-sized Iron Throne for HBO”s Game of Thrones.

Matt Chaloner, 38, said: “We both loved making things.   We dreamed of working in Film and TV doing model making and special effects – and that dream did come true.

“It all started with my Degree Show at the University of Sunderland, when I created a life-size Subbuteo David Beckham as my main piece in for the final show. At my first (and only) job interview after the degree show, I showed the interviewers a clipping from a newspaper, and that secured me a job as an apprentice ice sculptor in London.”

Matt Foster, 37, added: “Without that happening neither of us would be where we are today. We both ended up working in London, Mat as an ice sculptor, me doing model-making and liquid effects. Over the next years we learned an incredible amount of skills and knowledge from some of the masters of the trade.

“We decided to take a year out and go backpacking around the world. It was on our travels that we decided when we got back to the UK, we would set up our own business.  At Ayres Rock in Australia we came up with the name ‘Glacial Art’.”

That was 12 years ago now Mat and Matt have never looked back. Their day to day work involves mostly ice sculptures for weddings, birthdays and corporate events, but, Mat Chaloner admits, it’s the big PR events where they have the most fun.

“We have carved a life size horse with an ape on its back for War for the Planet of the Apes. We’ve made lots of ice sculptures for TV shows. Creating a full Ice set for a Game of Thrones episode over in Belfast was a great highlight. And we still have a lot in the pipeline right now. This winter is looking very exciting.”

As a new class of students graduate from the University of Sunderland this summer, with their Degree Show launching this Friday (15 June) Mat and Matt have some advice for them as they put the finishing touches to their final show, and prepare to move on to the real world.

“Just keep going. You can’t work too hard, but like any commission you will get in your future career, once it’s finished, put it behind you and move on to the next. You can always do better and you can always learn more. So give this everything, then let it go and find something else to sink your teeth into.

“Let’s see how good you can really be.”

Degree Shows 2018: When and Where:

The shows have their launch night on Friday 15 June for invited guests.

They officially open on Saturday, 16 June (10am to 4pm) and run until Friday 22 June (weekdays 10am to 5pm). No shows on Sunday 17.

They take place at:

Priestman Building: Fine Art and Photography

CitySpace Studio: Animation; Advertising; Games & App Design; Fashion, Product and Promotion; Graphic Design; Illustration.

National Glass Centre: Glass and Ceramics (9-18 June).