Hackney Council today announce the unveiling of a 4-metre-high, bronze sculpture by Hackney-based artist STIK. Titled ‘Holding Hands’, it is the culmination of a four-year collaboration between STIK and Hackney Council and has been solely funded by the artist.

‘Holding Hands’ had its genesis in 2016 when Hackney Council asked STIK to design the official Hackney banner for the London Pride Parade featuring two non-gender specific figures. In 2017, STIK began working with the Council  to find a permanent home in one of Hackney’s many green-flagged parks. for ‘Holding Hands’, his first public sculpture.

STIK has lived and worked in Hackney for 20 years, seeing the borough from many different perspectives and has painted numerous murals in Hackney, many as a way to give voice to the various communities in the borough. He has had successful exhibitions of his paintings around the world, his work has sold at major auction houses and his monumental public artworks can be found in the streets of cities such as New York and Tokyo. STIK still continues to live and work in Hackney, where he has a studio. Having struggled with homelessness in the past, a one time resident of St Mungo’s homeless shelter in Mare Street, STIK focuses on supporting homeless charities and organisations such as Cardboard Citizens and The Big Issue. He also has a history of supporting local good causes and to date has raised over £250,000 for charities based in the borough.

“‘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. 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. The ‘Holding Hands’ sculpture 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”. – STIK

The installation of ‘Holding Hands’ in Hoxton Square demonstrates the value that Hackney Council places in supporting local artists and public art, its use of public and green spaces in the borough and how this can benefit the community.

Mayor of Hackney 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 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.”

Visitors to the new sculpture are invited to post a selfie of themselves with someone in their bubble using the #STIK #HoldingHands hashtag. Please observe current social distancing responsibilities when posing with the sculpture.