UK’s first permanent public artworks celebrating the Windrush Generation unveiled in Hackney

Artist Veronica Ryan with her sculptures of food inspired by her childhood trips to Ridley Road Market. Photograph: Julia Gregory

“This is for everyone, for the local community to own these sculptures,” said artist Veronica Ryan, creator of the UK’s first permanent public artworks commemorating the Windrush Generation.

The marble and bronze sculptures of custard apple, breadfruit and soursop can be found by St Augustine’s Tower on the Narrow Way in Hackney Central.

The pieces were unveiled today – the first day of Black History Month 2021 – and follow the reveal of a statue at the Whittington Hospital in Islington which commemorates Windrush and Commonwealth nurses.

Ryan’s sculptures pay tribute to the people who arrived in the UK from the Caribbean between the late 1940s and 1970s, including those who arrived on the ship Empire Windrush in 1948.

The works were commissioned by Hackney Council “as a permanent symbol of honour, respect and commitment to the Windrush Generations, their legacy and contribution to life in Hackney”.

Ryan said: “I used to come shopping with my mum in the Ridley Road Market. It’s about fruit and veg that’s part of the local community, the local diet.

“I chose this particular group because I liked the textures, I wanted them to be interesting to engage with, they are not the same surface textures as well.”

She said she wants people to regard them as family and for children and adults to sit on them.

Local resident Hamed Bamba fulfils Ryan’s desire for the sculptures to be used as seating. Photograph: Julia Gregory

Resident Hamed Bamba, who is originally from Ivory Coast and has lived in the borough for 20 years, said: “I love it, I think it’s great.”

Cllr Carole Williams, the cabinet member with responsibility for Windrush, said: “This is one way to celebrate the Windrush Generation and their descendants and the contributions they made to the life of Hackney.”

Williams said it was also important to remember the hurt caused by the Windrush scandal, in which people suffered detainment, deportation and denial of benefits despite having the right to settle in the UK.

The sculptures were produced by Create London, and with funding from the Henry Moore Foundation and support from the Art Fund and Ryan’s galleries, Alison Jacques and Paula Cooper.

Sculptures by Thomas Price will be unveiled outside Hackney Town Hall on Windrush Day next June.