Inspiration behind famous Brixton railway station statue returns 35 years later for new sculpture

A new life-size bronze figure has been unveiled at Brixton railway station, some 35 years after inspiration Joy Battick posed for her original statue.

The new sculpture, known as Joy II, now stands on the opposite platform to Joy, facing her 26-year-old self, which is believed to be “the first sculptural representation of British black people in England”.

The creation of the new figure saw former Brixton resident Joy Battick, aged 62, reunited with artist Kevin Atherton, now aged 72, who both unveiled the statues at the station earlier today.

The Mayor of Lambeth Pauline George and Joy Battick (Picture: Southeastern)

Joy, who worked at Brixton Recreation Centre in 1986, said: “I don’t think many people can claim to have a life-size statue of themselves so to have two in the same place is quite amazing.

“Back in the 1980s, all the staff at the centre were asked if they wanted to take part in the art project and I just thought ‘why not?’.

I felt like a mummy being wrapped in bandages but when I saw the end result standing on Brixton platform, I knew it had all been worth it.

“Meeting up with Kevin again to pose for the second statue felt far more relaxed. It was a much easier process as I was photographed by 460 cameras at exactly the same time – I felt like a superstar.”

As well as the new sculpture, three listed statues originally created in the 1980s have been reinstated at the station.

Now owned by Southeastern, the figures, known as ‘Platforms Piece’, were commissioned by British Rail after the Public Art Development Trust suggested a piece of art should be created as part of a £1m improvement scheme.

In 2016, ‘Platforms Piece’ was given listed status by Historic England, as two of the figures are ‘believed to be the first sculptural representations of British black people in England in a public art context’.

Atherton wanted his three figures to emphasise the passing of trains at the station through their positioning, and to represent the real inhabitants of Brixton.

The original ‘Joy’ Statue (Picture: Southeastern)

He therefore chose models who had personal connections to the area: Peter Lloyd, Karin Heisterman and Joy Battick.

After being exposed to the elements since 1986, Southeastern removed the three original statues to be fully restored.

Although the figures are hollow, they weigh approximately 200 kilos each. 

Kevin Atherton said: “The original artwork became a much-loved Brixton landmark, welcoming passengers as they got on and off their train or when viewed from passing rail carriages. Historic England should be commended for recognising the piece as a celebration of the cultural identity of the area and I’m delighted the three original sculptures have been returned to their home. 

“The methods we use to craft sculptures have changed significantly since the 80s; creating ‘Joy II’ and reuniting with Joy after so many years was a wonderful experience.”

Pictured top: The Mayor of Lambeth Pauline George, Joy Battick and artist Kevin Atherton with the new statue at Brixton railway station (Picture: Southeastern)

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One thought on “Inspiration behind famous Brixton railway station statue returns 35 years later for new sculpture

  • Funny that no matter how little money there is for public services there is always spare cash to sling up a huge metallic statue of someone totally irrelevant.


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