Sculptures to be unveiled on National Windrush Day will celebrate Windrush Generation
This National Windrush Day (22 June) will see the unveiling of two public sculptures in Hackney to honour the Windrush Generation. The figures by London-based artist Thomas J Price, to be permanently installed outside Hackney Town Hall, will depict representations of the Windrush Generation and their descendants.
Price, along with artist Veronica Ryan OBE, were awarded the Hackney Windrush Art Commission in 2020 following a comprehensive consultation with residents. Ryan’s large marble and bronze sculptures of Caribbean fruits were unveiled last October to mark the start of Hackney’s Black History Season, and along with Price’s figures, became the first UK public artwork to celebrate and honour the Windrush Generation.
The sculptures by Price are based on an amalgamation of digital 3D images of Hackney residents aged 20 to 91, all of whom had a personal connection to Windrush. Over 30 members of the local community, including Hackney Cllr Carole Williams, the lead Member for Hackney Council’s response to the Windrush Scandal, answered a call from the artist to be photographed using a 3D scanner, and have their stature, stance, clothing, features and posture captured to inform the final pieces.
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.
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 are a 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 compliment 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.
I was delighted to have a chance to be part of the project. 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 commissioned by Hackney Council and produced and curated by Create London. It is generously supported by the Art Fund, with additional funding for Veronica Ryan’s commission from the Henry Moore Foundation. The accompanying extensive public programme is kindly supported by the Freelands Foundation.
Thomas J Price’s Hackney Windrush Art Commission comes as the nation celebrates National Windrush Day, the unveiling will take place alongside a series of celebratory events outside Hackney Town Hall free to the public. There will also be a range of different events taking place up and down the country including the unveiling of the government-commissioned National Windrush Monument, by artist Basil Watson at London Waterloo station.
NOTES TO EDITORS
National Windrush Day
Although Windrush Day has been celebrated in the Caribbean community for years, National Windrush Day was introduced in the UK in June 2018 on the 70th anniversary of the Windrush migration. The day marks the arrival of Afro-Caribbean immigrants to the shores of Britain and honours the British Caribbean community. An estimated half a million people made their way to England after the Second World War.
Hackney Windrush Commission
The announcement was made on National Windrush Day 2020 following an extensive consultation process which began in 2018. The final decision to select Thomas J Price and Veronica Ryan to make two separate pieces of work was made by a panel including Hackney residents, Windrush campaigners, artists, architects and local councillors including Cllr Carole Williams – Hackney’s appointed Cabinet lead for Windrush. The panel was chaired by Mark Sealy, director of Hackney-based gallery Autograph ABP, with approval from Mayor Phillip Glanville.
Thomas J Price
Thomas J Price was born in South London (1981). He received his BA in Fine Art Sculpture at Chelsea College of Art (2001-2004) and completed his MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art in (2004-2006.) Prices practice spans sculpture, photography, film and animation. Price has held solo exhibitions at prestigious institutions including The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada; The National Portrait Gallery, London, UK; and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, UK. Price’s sculpture ‘The Distance Within’ is currently on view in Marcus Garvey Park, New York, until October 2022 as part of ‘Witness’; a commissioned project with Studio Museum Harlem. In 2021 he joined the international gallery Hauser and Wirth. Price lives and works in London.
Create London is an arts organisation that has pioneered working with artists to realise new social enterprises, charities and cultural spaces. It commissions, curates and incubates long-term projects that are useful to society, supporting artists to work collaboratively with local communities. It reimagines the role of the artist in the city, working outside of galleries to find new and often surprising ways for art to become part of everyday life. Create London is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. https://createlondon.org/
In 2018, Hackney was the first UK council to pass a comprehensive Motion regarding the Windrush generation. Alongside lobbying for justice for those affected by the Windrush Scandal, honoring the Windrush community is key to the borough’s commitments. Hackney Council’s Windrush Engagement Program supports the borough’s ongoing pledge to honor the valuable contributions of the Windrush generation. https://hackney.gov.uk/windrush
Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. It provides millions of pounds every year to help museums to acquire and share works of art across the UK, further the professional development of their curators, and inspire more people to visit and enjoy their public programmes. Art Fund is independently funded, supported by the 130,000 members who buy the National Art Pass, who enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places, 50% off major exhibitions, and receive Art Quarterly magazine. Art Fund also supports museums through its annual prize, Art Fund Museum of the Year. www.artfund.org
Freelands Foundation was set up in 2015 to give more people the chance to engage with and enjoy the arts in the UK, with a particular focus on education. Their ambition is to give everyone access to art education in the belief that it raises their aspirations and transforms their opportunities in life. They have worked with more than 30 arts organisations across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to support artists and broaden their engagement in their communities. https://freelandsfoundation.co.uk/
Henry Moore Foundation
The Henry Moore Foundation was founded by the artist Henry Moore and his family in 1977 to encourage public appreciation of the visual arts. Today they support innovative sculpture projects, devise an imaginative programme of exhibitions and research worldwide, and preserve the legacy of Moore himself: one of the great sculptors of the 20th century, who did so much to bring the art form to a wider audience. https://www.henry-moore.org/