They’re the ‘best kept secret’ in Brixton, but not for long (Picture: Joe Pepler/PinPep)
The first statues believed to depict black British people have returned to Brixton at long last.
They are collectively known as Platforms Piece and were first placed on the platform of Brixton station in 1986.
The three icons were removed for refurbishment in 2016, making their home coming all the more special after seven years.
Historic England said they were ‘believed to be the first sculptural representation of British black people in England in a public art context’.
The statues were created by artist Kevin Atherton and depict three residents from the area, though a fourth figure has been added to the installation for its reopening.
This new statue depicts one of the original locals, then-26-year-old Joy Battick, as she appears now, in her sixties. Kevin has called it Joy II.
The two likenesses now stand opposite one another at the station.
The statues were removed in 2016 for refurbishment (Picture: Joe Pepler/PinPep)
Joy had to be ‘wrapped in bandages’ to make the cast for her original statue (Picture: Joe Pepler/PinPep)
The sculptures have acquired new meanings (Picture: Joe Pepler/PinPep)
In 1986, Joy was employed at the local leisure centre when she warily agreed to model for the sculpture.
She recalls ‘feeling like a mummy being wrapped in bandages’ during the process of making a body cast.
But now highly accurate scanning and 3D printing technology have made creating new statues much easier, and the sculptures have acquired new meaning.
Joy said the statues felt ‘more poignant’ this time around and ‘more like I’ve achieved something’.
Joy II was much easier to make (Picture: Joe Pepler/PinPep)
Kevin said the statues were partly about time travel (Picture: Joe Pepler/PinPep)
‘It’s crazy,’ she said. ‘When I first said yes, I didn’t expect anything important, but now I’m part of something historical, especially as a woman of colour.’
Kevin said the new statue ‘has always been about time and travelling, but now it’s about time travel’.
‘Joy is looking at her younger self, but she’s also looking at herself that’s 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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