A sculpture unveiled in east London is the first statue of a Black woman in the United Kingdom to be created by a Black sculptor.
Reaching Out is an addition to The Line, a free sculpture trail running between The O2 in North Greenwich and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. There are very few other permanent statues of Black women in the UK — among them are The Bronze Woman monument in Stockwell and a depiction of Mary Seacole at St Thomas' Hospital.
The statue stands at 9ft tall, and depicts a woman looking at her mobile phone in her hand. Rather than focusing on an individual, artist Thomas J Price deliberately sculpted a fictional character, based on several points of reference.
The smartphone in the woman's hands is a nod to themes of isolation and connectedness, and is not the first time Price has explored our use of technology in his work — Network, a 9ft sculpture depicting a man on his phone, can be seen close to Old Street roundabout.
Reaching Out has been unveiled in August 2020, at a time when the debate surrounding Britain's lack of statues depicting Black people was heightened by Black Lives Matter protests. In relation to a previous artwork, All In, Price has asked:
Do we buy into to the current system of historical figures representing the values we should aspire to, or do we look for the commonalities we all share and embrace those who have previously been stigmatised and underrepresented / if at all? In the end, I imagine it will be a mixture...
London-based Price is also one of two artists to be commissioned by Hackney Council to create public sculptures celebrating the Windrush Generation. The artworks are due to be installed in 2021, with Price's work to stand outside Hackney Town Hall.
Find Reaching Out by Thomas J Price on Three Mills Island, near Bromley-by-Bow. You can follow Price on Instagram @tpstudio where you can learn more about the background and creation process of this artwork.
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