Hackney makes Black History with first UK public artwork honouring Windrush Generation

Diane Abbott_MP_Cllr Carole_Williams_Artist_Veronica_Ryan_Mayor_of_Hackney_Credit_Wayne_Crichlow

The UK’s first public, permanent artwork to honour the Windrush Generation has been unveiled in Hackney as part of Hackney Council’s commitment to support the Windrush Generation and its descendants and recognize their significant contribution to life in Hackney and the UK.

The large marble and bronze sculptures of Caribbean fruits by celebrated artist Veronica Ryan OBE - Custard Apple, Breadfruit and Soursop - are inspired by the artist’s memories of visiting Hackney’s Ridley Road Market as a child. The sculptures, which represent themes of movement and migration, are on permanent display next to St. Augustine’s Tower in Hackney.

At the public unveiling, artist Veronica Ryan OBE said: “With all the world crisis we are experiencing, this is a wonderful time to embrace positivity. Cultural visibility and representation evident in public spaces is crucial. I am very happy that my sculptures will be part of this recognition. I like the fact that the community in Hackney will see something familiar represented in the sculptures, and always enjoy these connections.”

Cllr Carole Williams, Cabinet Member for Employment, Skills and Human Resources
These pieces by Veronica Ryan OBE, have been unveiled at an incredibly significant time in history, when conversations are taking place about the telling and retelling of historical narratives in our public space, and at a time when the stories of the Windrush generation were on the verge of being erased and forgotten. The sculptures really couldn’t be a more fitting reminder of the Windrush generation whose stories are being remembered, recaptured and retold for generations to come.
Cllr Carole Williams, Cabinet Member for Employment, Skills and Human Resources

In 2018 Hackney became the first UK council to pass a comprehensive motion regarding the Windrush generation, committing to recognise the harm done by the Windrush scandal. As part of the council’s commitment to honour this community, a commission was set up to find artists who could create a landmark artwork of national significance that acknowledged their contribution. 

Veronica Ryan’s work was selected, together with a sculpture by artist Thomas J Price which will be unveiled as part of the Council's annual Windrush celebrations in June. The artworks were commissioned by Hackney Council and produced and curated by Create London, with Art Fund support, and additional funding from the Henry Moore Foundation.

Notes for editors 

For more information about the Windrush Artwork Commission visit hackney.gov.uk/windrush-artwork 

Visit hackney.gov.uk/windrush for more information and support for those affected by the Windrush Scandal and the Council's Windrush Motion and commitments to the Windrush Generation.

To watch the public unveiling ceremony back, which includes speeches from Veronica Ryan and Cllr Carole Williams, visit the Hackney Council YouTube link 

For more images from the day visit the Hackney Council Flickr album. 

Main image credit: Wayne Crichlow