A London-based artist has invited the people of Hackney to help inspire the UK’s first permanent public artwork that will pay tribute to the Windrush generation.
Thomas J Price has called for a maximum of 30 contributors, who are willing to have a 3D photograph taken of them in their day-to-day clothes.
The photographs will present people associated with Hackney’s Windrush community, such as members of the Windrush generation, who emigrated to Britain from the Caribbean during 1948 to 1973, as well as their younger relatives who are also residents of the borough.
Price will form sculptures based upon the photographs, which will be showcased in the heart of Hackney. Hackney council said in a press release: “Artist Thomas J Price will use photo archives and digital 3D scans to create large-scale figures, which will stand tall in Hackney’s Town Hall Square.
“Their appearance will inform the sculptures, although there will be no obvious likeness to any individual in the final pieces.”
The project aims to shed light on the Windrush immigrants’ input in society as well as the marginalisation of black Britons. The council said in a press release: “The work will serve as recognition of the hugely significant contribution people from the Windrush generation have made to life in Hackney and the UK, while seeking to address the disproportionate lack of statues representing Black people in Britain.”
After World War two, the Windrush generation were requested to work in the UK to strengthen the declining economy, by entering jobs in sectors such as the NHS, manufacturing, public transport and construction. According to Hackney council, the borough has hundreds, potentially thousands, of people who are part of the Windrush generation, which may suggest that this community holds a major role in the area.
Price believes that the sculptures will help to visualise the significance of those associated with Windrush, and connects with the cause on a personal level. He said: “This is an amazing opportunity to show how people connected to Windrush are part of the very fabric of this country. I feel honoured to be part of this celebration of its legacy, especially as my Jamaican grandmother came over as a nurse.”
The artist would like the sculptures to gain attraction from those who are under-represented. Price said: “I am very excited to work with the people of Hackney on this project, and it’s my hope that this piece will challenge social perceptions and receive engagement from audiences that are often left out of traditional gallery environments.”
Hackney Council has stated its aim of providing sanctuary and tackling hostility within the borough, through the sculpture project. The council said on their community, crime and safety web page: “The works [sculptures] . . . will symbolise the ongoing commitment from the borough to provide refuge and welcome to worldwide migrants.”
The borough has partly gained this reputation since August 2018, when Hackney was the UK’s first council to pass a motion for the Windrush scandal, which exposed the Windrush generations mistaken deportation, detainment and refusal of legal rights.
The motion was a pledge to object to the criminalisation of the Windrush community, to celebrate the Windrush anniversary day and to urge the government to launch a public enquiry into the scandal.