When a statue of Joy Batik was unveiled at Brixton railway station 35 years ago, it was one of the first public works of art of a black person in England.
On Wednesday, Ms Batik, 62, was reunited with her 26-year-old self when a second life-size bronze bust known as Joy II was unveiled at the station.
The two statues face each other on the station platforms, and are joined by two other statues that were first erected in the 1980s and have now been restored at the station. 72-year-old artist Kevin Atherton’s work is called Platform Piece – The Return.
Ms Batik, who worked at the Brixton Recreation Center in 1986 and lives in Brixton, said: “I don’t think many people can claim to have a life-size statue of themselves, so to have two in one place is enough are amazing.” ,
The original figures, known as the ‘Platforms Piece’, were suggested by the Public Art Development Trust to British Rail that a piece of art should be made as part of a £1m improvement scheme.
The platform piece was given listed status by Historic England in 2016 as the two figures were “considered to be the first sculptural representation of British black people in England in the context of public art”.
South Eastern Railway, which now owns Brixton station, decided to restore the three original sculptures, which were weathered and at risk of toppling over.
Ms Batick unveiled her new sculpture on Wednesday alongside the Mayor of Lambeth Cllr Pauline George and Mr Atherton.
Mr Atherton wanted the figures to emphasize the passing of trains at the station through their position and to represent real residents of Brixton. They chose models who had personal ties to the area: Peter Lloyd, Karin Heistermann and Ms. Batik.
Ms Batik said: “In the 80s, all the staff at the center were asked if they wanted to take part in the art project and I thought ‘why not?’. I felt like a mummy wrapped in bandages but When I saw the end result on the Brixton platform, I knew it was all worth it.
“It felt so much more relaxing to be reunited with Kevin to pose for the second statue. It was a very easy process as I was photographed by the 460 cameras at the exact moment – I felt like a superstar.
The figures are hollow but each weighs around 200kg. The new Joy II statue was created using 3D scanning and 3D printing technology.
Mr Atherton said: “The original artwork became a Brixton landmark, welcoming commuters as they boarded and disembarked their train or as trains passed by. The piece as a celebration of the cultural identity of the area Historic England is to be commended for recognizing this and I am delighted that the three original sculptures have returned to their homes.
“The methods we use to make sculptures have changed a lot since the 80s; It was a wonderful experience making ‘Joy II’ and reuniting with Joy after so many years.
Peter Stapleton, Head of Southeastern Facilities, said: “The ‘platform piece’ is very important to the local area and as owners of this important artwork, we are very pleased that we have been able to restore and return the original sculptures . platform.
“Having a new figure on the station gives hope to a whole new generation to appreciate all the idols.”
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