London: First statues of black Brits return to Brixton

First statues celebrating black history return to Brixton

They’re the ‘best kept secret’ in Brixton, but not for long (Image: Joe Pepler/PinPep)

The first statues believed to represent black Britons have finally returned to Brixton.

Known collectively as the Platforms Piece, they were first installed on the platform at Brixton station in 1986.

The three icons were removed for refurbishment in 2016, making their home even more special after seven years.

Historic England said they are “allegedly the first sculptural depiction of British black people in England in a public art context”.

The statues were created by artist Kevin Atherton and represent three local residents, although a fourth character was added to the installation for the reopening.

This new statue depicts one of the original locals, then 26-year-old Joy Battick, as she appears now, in her 60’s. Kevin called it Joy II.

The two portraits are now facing each other at the train station.

***FREE EDITORIAL USE*** A new life-size bronze figure at Brixton railway station was unveiled today (Wednesday 25th January). Titled ???Platforms Piece??? The Return???, the statue ???Joy II??? features former Brixton resident Joy Battick, aged 62, and stands in front of her original statue,'Joy', created by artist Kevin Atherton in 1986. ???Joy??? is one of three listed statues known as

The statues were removed for renovation in 2016 (Image: Joe Pepler/PinPep)

Joy and her statue

Joy had to be “wrapped in bandages” to do the cast for her original statue (Image: Joe Pepler/PinPep)

***FREE EDITORIAL USE*** A new life-size bronze figure at Brixton railway station was unveiled today (Wednesday 25th January). Titled ???Platforms Piece??? The Return???, the statue ???Joy II??? features former Brixton resident Joy Battick, aged 62, and stands in front of her original statue,'Joy', created by artist Kevin Atherton in 1986. ???Joy??? is one of three listed statues known as

The sculptures have taken on new meanings (Image: Joe Pepler/PinPep)

In 1986, Joy was employed at the local recreation center when she tentatively agreed to model for the sculpture.

She recalls feeling “like a mummy being wrapped in bandages” while making a body cast.

But now, high-precision scanning and 3D printing technology have made creating new statues much easier, and the sculptures have taken on new meaning.

Joy said the statues felt “more immersive” this time and “more like I’ve accomplished something.”

Joy and Kevin look at the model statue

Joy II was a lot easier to make (Image: Joe Pepler/PinPep)

***FREE EDITORIAL USE*** A new life-size bronze figure at Brixton railway station was unveiled today (Wednesday 25th January). Titled ???Platforms Piece??? The Return???, the statue ???Joy II??? features former Brixton resident Joy Battick, aged 62, and stands in front of her original statue,'Joy', created by artist Kevin Atherton in 1986. ???Joy??? is one of three listed statues known as

Kevin said the statues were partly about time travel (Image: Joe Pepler/PinPep)

“It’s crazy,” she said. “When I first said yes, I wasn’t expecting anything significant, but now I’m part of something historic, especially as a woman of color.”

Kevin said that the new statue “was always about time and travel, but now it’s about time travel.”

“Joy is looking at her younger self, but she is also looking at herself who is yet to be,” he added.

Kevin described the statues as the “best kept secret” in Brixton and said he was regularly told by commuters how much they enjoyed seeing them.

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https://metro.co.uk/2023/01/25/london-first-statues-of-black-british-people-return-to-brixton-18165249/ London: First statues of black Brits return to Brixton

Justin Scacco

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