Sculptures mark a place in history

A NEW permanent public sculpture by acclaimed artist Veronica Ryan OBE has been unveiled in east London, as part of Hackney Council’s Black History Season, The history of the Hackney Blacks in the making.

The series of three works – large marble and bronze sculptures, depicting Caribbean fruit and vegetables – are located near St. Augustine’s Tower, Hackney. The work references stories of migration and movement and is inspired by memories the artist visited in east London markets, including Hackney’s Ridley Road market, as a child.

Ryan’s artwork, along with a new sculpture by artist Thomas J Price to be unveiled on National Windrush Day in June 2022, is the first public artwork in the UK to celebrate and honor the generation Windrush.

Ryan said: “With all of the global crisis we are going through, it is a wonderful time to embrace positivity. Visible cultural visibility and representation in public spaces is crucial. I am very happy that my sculptures are part of this acknowledgement.

“Ridley Market here in Hackney remains a vibrant place of early excitement to shop with my mum, I don’t often get along at the market now but was so happy to buy some lovely soursop and apples to cream on recent visits.

“I love that the Hackney community will see familiar fruit and vegetables depicted in the carvings and will always appreciate those connections.”

Commissioned by the Hackney Council and produced and curated by Create London, the Hackney Windrush Art Commission is made possible by support from the Art Fund, with additional funding from the Henry Moore Foundation. The accompanying public program is supported by the Freelands Foundation.

A new website, hackneywindrush.comand the Instagram account, @hackneywindrush, launched on June 22, 2021, National Windrush Day. A wider public program, led by Create London, continues through Autumn 2021.

In the week leading up to Veronica Ryan’s unveiling, Future Hackney installed its second street exhibit Ridley Road Stories part 2. Combining documentary, portraits and co-authors, the project collaborates with communities to create a hybrid genre of photographic storytelling. Located on the streets of Ridley Road and Gillett Square in Dalston, the exhibit documents the people of the Caribbean and Africa.

In November, Autograph APB will host workshops at the Cllr James Library in Dalston. These workshops will revolve around storytelling, using photography and conversation to celebrate Hackney as a place for all. These will be organized for a group of young people from Hackney Youth Service and a group of older people from Connect Hackney.

Cllr Carole Williams, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Skills and Human Resources in charge of Windrush, said:

“These pieces are unveiled at an incredibly meaningful time when conversations are taking place about storytelling and retelling historical narratives in our public space.

“Hackney will now become home to the UK’s first permanent work of art that alters this narrative, recognizing the positive contributions of the Windrush generation whose stories were on the verge of being erased and forgotten.”

Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville said: ‘It’s hugely important that we have public art that everyone can relate to. Veronica’s play will be at the heart of Hackney and will be seen by thousands of people every day. I have no doubt that it will become a meeting point and a subject

of conversation and, in doing so, will help keep the story of the Windrush generation and their descendants alive for many years to come.

This project is produced and organized by Create London in partnership with Hackney Council and supported by Freelands Foundation.

The Hackney Windrush Art Commission is supported by Art Fund with additional funding from the Henry Moore Foundation. The public program is supported by the Freelands Foundation.