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Fire and ice: How a ceramic student came to work on Game of Thrones

Attila Olah Tuesday 29 March 2016

Producing ice sculptures for global TV phenomenon Game of Thrones and working with an internationally renowned artist have been all in a day’s work for Design student Attila Olah. As the sculptor and ceramicist prepares for the final Art and Design Degree Show, he looks back on his time at Hope.

I’d been working for several years at Glacial Art in Liverpool through a Creative Apprenticeship, and was keen to further my qualifications and specialism. I decided to invest in a degree and get more training to help me progress and think more like a designer.

After completing a Design Level 3 course at Liverpool Community College, I was recommended Liverpool Hope for its hands-on approach and practical style of teaching.

One of the strengths of the University is the time tutors dedicate to students, which combined with their vast knowledge and the facilities available, make it a great place to study.

In my second year, I applied for a summer placement with ceramicist Claudi Casanovas and was instead offered a year-long apprenticeship opportunity. My tutors supported me and helped me to delay my studies for a year so I could move to Catalonia.

It was an incredible privilege to work with Claudi, he is the absolute archetypal ceramist to me. I spent 12 months living and training in the small town of Olot, where I spent my days working on machinery and mixing clay to produce a series of sculptures that will be on display in 2017.

Throughout my degree I have continued to work at Glacial Art and found my studies have helped improve my ice sculpting skills. I’ve worked on some great projects, including producing a 1.5m high ice sculpture for Game of Thrones. The 'Ice Henge' featured in the Season 4 episode Oathbreakers, which aired in 2014.

We crafted the piece in Liverpool and then used specialist freezer vans to transport it to the set in Ireland. It was an amazing opportunity, and having the chance to watch the film crew in action was like a sneak peek behind the scenes at Hollywood.

However, we were also given an insight into the realities of life on set, spending 18 hours at the shoot monitoring the ice and using fire extinguishers to keep it from melting between takes.

After graduation, I’m looking forward to pursuing my passion for ceramics and sculpture, and working on new designs. 

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