Stik’s Holding Hands in place at Hoxton Square. Photograph: Hackney Council

Local street artist Stik’s first ever public sculpture has been unveiled by Hackney Council in Hoxton Square.

Holding Hands, four metres tall and cast in bronze, is the result of a collaboration between the world-famous artist and the Town Hall that began in 2016.

Back then, the council asked Stik to design its banner for the London Pride Parade, featuring two non-gender-specific figures. A year later, the artist started working with the Town Hall to find a permanent home for his first public sculpture.

Stik said: “Holding Hands depicts two figures facing in opposite directions yet holding hands, in a sign of universal love and solidarity.

“Traditionally cast in patinated bronze, the sculpture is roughly twice human height – the hands low enough for the viewer to reach, the feet planted firmly on the ground, legs forming a doorway the viewer may pass through.

“One figure walks determinedly westwards towards the city centre, the other moves gracefully to the east, eyes turned to the treetops.

A bird’s eye view of Stik (left) welding the sculpture. Photograph: Hackney Council

“The composition has been constructed in such a way that at first one figure appears to lead, then the other, depending on where the viewer is standing in relation to the sculpture.

“It is a subtle reminder of what it is to look at the world from other people’s perspectives as relevant today as it will be in 100 years.”

He added: “Holding Hands is being installed at a poignant time in our history when holding hands is not always possible, but is a symbol of hope for what has always been and what will be again.

“The sculpture is intended as a timeless and inclusive meeting place for all, regardless of race, sexuality, gender, faith, or social status.”

The artwork has been funded entirely by Stik, who has lived and worked in the borough for 20 years, and in that time has seen his star rise across the world. His street art can be found as far afield as New York and Tokyo, and his pieces have sold at major auction houses, in aid of homelessness charities close to his heart.

A one-time resident of St Mungo’s homeless shelter on Mare Street, the artist has long supported charities such as Cardboard Citizens and the Big Issue. To date, he has raised over £250,000 for good causes across Hackney.

The sale of Stik’s Up on the Roof raised £150,000 for homelessness charity Cardboard Citizens.
Photograph: courtesy of the artist

Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville said: “We’re proud to be able to support and share the creativity of our residents and are honoured to provide Holding Hands with an iconic home in Hoxton Square.

“This represents a longstanding commitment to inclusive public art that can be enjoyed by everyone in our parks and public spaces.

“The values of unity and connection that this sculpture represents are at one with the Hackney I see every day.

“I’d like to thank Stik for his record of activism, collaborating with the borough and this generous donation, and council officers for their hard work in getting this sculpture in place. Together, they have created something that I hope will be enjoyed for decades to come.”

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