Why the World Cup gives these Sunderland graduates a reason to celebrate

Mat and Matt with their pizza ice sculpture.
Mat and Matt with their pizza ice sculpture.

A life-size Subbuteo sculpture of David Beckham and son Brooklyn changed one Sunderland student's life forever.

It was around the time of the 2002 World Cup when Mat Chaloner, then a young student at Sunderland University, created the extraordinary model as part of his final degree show assignment.

The Game of Thrones sculpture.

The Game of Thrones sculpture.

Now, he and fellow student Matt Foster have made sculptures for Game of Thrones, Bentley, Sony and Gucci as part of their ice sculpture business Glacial Art. It launched in 2006.

Mat 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.”

Mat and his Subbuteo.

Mat and his Subbuteo.

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’.”

And the rest is history. Since the company's launch 12 years ago, the graduates have also catered for TV shows and film sets, including War for the Planet of the Apes

As a new class of students graduate from the University of Sunderland this summer, with their degree show launching this Friday, Mat and Matt have given some advice as they add their finishing touches.

They said: "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.”