Set to be unveiled this spring in the public courtyard next to TOG’s new offices at the White Collar Factory, the statue depicts a young man checking a smartphone. The pose may be ordinary, but the medium transforms it into something subversive, iconic even. Bronze sculptures are usually the preserve of historical figures, not everyday folk. Then there’s the figure’s ethnicity, which is hugely significant
because the sculpture, which is titled Network, will be only the second time a public statue has been permanently displayed in London of a modern, young black man (there have been two statues of black commuters at Brixton railway station since 1986).
“It’s about giving consideration to people who are not normally presented as people of power,” says Network’s creator, the artist Thomas J Price, who cast the 9ft statue in bronze, before finishing it with a jet-black patina. “I want to encourage the viewer to spend a bit of time contemplating an individual they may not normally think much about, to create an opportunity for empathy. We’re all encouraged to think quickly and form impressions very fast. This is saying, ‘Think again. Maybe have a second look.’”