Brixton station statues to undergo checks and repairs

woman with statue she modelled
Joy Battick on the Brixton station platform in 2016 with the statue she modelled

Some of Brixton’s truly iconic artworks – the statues on the platforms of the overground station – are to be checked over after waiting in the wind and rain for more than 30 years.

The three statues, including two works thought to be the first public statues of Black British people erected in the UK, were listed by Historic England in 2016.

Entitled Platforms Piece, they were created in 1986 by artist Kevin Atherton, who used local residents Peter Lloyd, Joy Battick and Karin Heistermann as models.

British Rail commissioned Platforms Piece as part of a station improvement scheme.

Two of the models worked at the Brixton Rec which stands opposite the platforms.

Joy Battick said in 2016: “I’m so happy to see Platforms Piece listed – being cast for the sculpture was a lot of fun, but we were serious too because we knew it would be on display to local people forever.

“Now it’s a real Brixton landmark, and I can’t believe that my figure has appeared in a book next to other London statues of people like Queen Boadicea and Winston Churchill.”

Despite the English Heritage listing, the BBC left the Brixton statues off a list of statues of Black people in Britain because the subjects wre “not named historical figures”.

Kevin Atherton 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.”

Platforms Piece is now owned by train operator Southeastern.

The statue modelled by Karin Heistermann, a young German woman, was removed last year for “careful restoration”..

A spokesperson for Southeastern said: “Last year we had to remove one of the statues at Brixton station, as we’d found that it had deteriorated over time, to the extent that there were concerns that it could fall.

“This could further damage the statue and potentially cause a safety risk to passengers and to passing trains.”

Southeastern plans to use ultrasound to test all three statues to see if there are any underlying structural problems.

“Once we have this information, we’ll be asking a specialist contractor to scope and undertake any repairs necessary,” the Southeastern spokesperson said.

statue on train platform
The statue modelled by Peter Lloyd stands on the dangerous platform above Atlantic Road

By what may or may not be a coincidence, platform 1 of Brixton station is set to be closed until next year for repairs to stop it collapsing onto Atlantic Road.

Had it done so, the statue modelled by Peter Lloyd which stands on the platform could have made another major impact on Brixton.

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