Work of artist killed in Grenfell fire to go on display

By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter

In the summer of 2017 young photographer Khadija Saye was exhibiting her work at the Venice Biennale – one of the world’s most prestigious shows.

She was selected to show work exploring her Gambian-British identity.

It was shown alongside work by established artists such as Isaac Julien and Yinka Shonibare, who were among a number of mentors to the younger artists involved in the Diaspora Pavilion project at Venice.

She said her work helped her explore ‘the deep-rooted urge to find solace in a higher power’.

A few weeks later the Hammersmith-born photographer died in the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower.

She lived on the 20th floor of the tower block, along with her mother Mary Mendy, who also died that night. Much of her work perished with her.

The year after her death two of her photos were sold by auction house Christie’s to raise money for a foundation in her name.

Now her surviving work is going on display at a gallery near her home.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic the curators had to be creative, and Khadija’s work fills the windows of the building at 236 Westbourne Grove.

The show is the first of the Breath is Invisible installations at the building in Notting Hill which run until October 9.

The name echoes the title of Khadija’s 2017 show Dwelling in this Space we Breathe.

It also saw the launch of the Khadija Saye Into Arts programme to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds overcome some of the obstacles preventing them from getting into the arts.

It will expose them to the arts through trips to venues, build up their knowledge and help them increase their skills for a successful career in the arts.

Her friend and shadow secretary of state for justice David Lammy launched the show.

He said “despite these tough times” the show “celebrates the importance of the art, celebrates the importance of diversity and absolutely puts square our future and our young people”.

He paid tribute to his friend who was 24 when she died: “Khadija was a tender, gentle and creative soul, on the cusp of something special in her artistic career when her life was tragically cut short.

“This exhibition reminds us of the dignity and humanity with which we remember those who lost their lives.”

Later this summer artists Martyn Ware, Zachary Eastwood-Bloom and Joy Gregory will present site-specific commissions created in partnership with the local community including the Harrow Club.

To find out how to apply contact [email protected] Tel: 020 7243 0242

Pictured top: Grenfell Tower



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