Historic statues of Black Brits go back on show at Brixton Station—with a familiar new friend

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A series of three statues thought to be the first public sculptures of Black British people erected in the UK have gone back on display at Brixton train station in south London following restoration. The trio of sculptures, entitled Platforms Piece, were made by the artist Kevin Atherton in 1986, and modelled on local residents Peter Lloyd, Joy Battick and Karin Heistermann.

The three statues are joined by a new addition, Joy II, which depicts Battick, one of the south Londoners featured in the original artwork. Atherton tells The Art Newspaper: “Today [25 January] the three original 1986 figures went back but with a fourth figure I made of Joy as a 61-year-old woman—a gap of 36 years between the two facing bronzes.” Joy II was made using 3D scanning and 3D printing technology.

Platforms Piece was commissioned by British Rail in the 1980s as part of a station improvement scheme; the works are now owned and overseen by the rail operator Southeastern.

The piece depicting Heistermann, a young German woman, was removed 2019 for “careful restoration” says a notice at the station. The weathered statues of Lloyd and Battick, who both worked at Brixton Recreation Centre, stood on the platforms until 2020 but were later removed for restoration. All three works received their makeovers at the AB Fine Art Foundry in east London.

In 2016 the three works were given listed status by the heritage body Historic England but were left off a list compiled by the BBC in 2020 of statues of Black individuals in the UK because the pieces are “not named historical figures”.

Atherton previously told The Art Newspaper: “The statues haven’t been overlooked by the travelling public but they have by the art world and consequently so have I. As a piece of public art, as far as the art world is concerned, I made the cardinal mistake of making a work of public art that the public actually liked.”

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