Create and Hackney Council have announced that two public sculptures honouring the Windrush generation and their descendants in Hackney will be unveiled on Windrush Day, 22 June 2022.
The two figures, created by London-based artist Thomas J Price, will be permanently installed outside Hackney Town Hall.
His creations follow three marble and bronze sculpture installations by the artist Veronica Ryan, which were revealed in October 2021. Together, the works are the first public artworks in Hackney to celebrate and honour the Windrush generation.
Price was awarded the Hackney Windrush Art Commission in 2020 following a consultation with Hackney residents in which he proposed a collaborative depiction of members of the Windrush generation and their descendants.
Following an open call to Hackney residents in May 2021, more than 30 members of the local community, aged 20 to 91, joined Price at a studio to be digitally photographed using a 3D scanning device. The technology captured their stature, stance, clothing, features and posture to inform the two final sculptures.
The artistic process served as a means to document and share the personal stories of Hackney residents, providing an opportunity for Windrush descendants to reflect on their own family history of migration and discuss the meaning of public monuments for future generations.
Price said: “It is important that my figures are not placed on plinths, to disrupt a sense of hierarchy that surrounds many public monuments. They exist amongst the public and daily life and are an extension of the people who inhabit these spaces. It was very important to me to continue this approach with the Hackney Windrush Commission, which is why the two figures have been positioned in the square directly outside Hackney Town Hall.”
Local resident Anneke Chambers took part in the project in memory of her great grandfather, a member of the Windrush generation who settled and worked in Hackney. She said: “Participating in this unique opportunity brought to the forefront the trials and successes of my great grandfather's experiences, during a very challenging period in British history. It has been a great joy to contribute to the richness of Hackney's migration history through the Windrush Art Commission.
“This has enabled me to honour my great grandfather’s legacy and that of other Windrush migrants, in the knowledge that our history shall be preserved for many generations to come.”
The sculptures comprise part of the Hackney Windrush public programme, led by Create and Hackney Council. The programme includes the creation of free resources for early years, primary and secondary schools, which have been developed in response to the Hackney Windrush Art Commissions, and highlighting Ryan and Price’s works, as well as the history of Windrush and the role of public art.
Hackney Council and Create have also collaborated with Autograph ABP and the Real Selfie project to produce a second iteration of a poetry and photography project, Selfies and Stories, which took place in 2021 and invited Hackney communities to get involved in a series of intercultural workshops focused on storytelling.
Councillor Carole Williams, the lead member for Hackney Council’s response to the Windrush scandal, said: “I am very pleased that this National Windrush Day Hackney will unveil the second of its ambitious artworks commissioned to honour the Windrush generation. Thomas J Price’s sculptures, which will be displayed prominently in the Town Hall Square, are a bold celebration of the legacy and cultural influence of the Windrush generation, and address the disproportionate lack of statues representing Black people in the UK.
“It is fitting that Hackney, a borough with a long and proud history of welcoming migrants, once again helps to showcase the stories of Windrush, which can be remembered and retold for generations to come. The sculptures complement the commitment made by Hackney when it became the first council to pass a comprehensive motion acknowledging the struggles and celebrating the achievements of migrant communities, and reflect Hackney’s illustrious history of fighting racism.
“It was personally satisfying to be part of the project by getting scanned. My mother, who arrived from Jamaica in the 1950s, would have taken a great deal of pleasure in the tribute to her and others who made Britain their home in the post-war period.”
The Hackney Windrush Art Commission is supported by the Art Fund, with additional funding for Ryan’s commission from the Henry Moore Foundation. The accompanying public programme is supported by the Freelands Foundation.
A range of events throughout the UK are set to take place on Windrush Day 2022, including the unveiling of the government-commissioned National Windrush Monument by artist Basil Watson at London Waterloo station.