Artist Khadija Saye was among the people lost in London’s tragic Grenfell Tower fire on June 14th. Now, a piece of her artwork hangs in one of London’s most important art museums, the Tate Britain.
Saye, who was 24, had recently begun to find professional success. She was the youngest of twelve artists whose work was chosen for display in the Diaspora Pavilion at the prestigious Venice Biennale art exhibition. She was also featured in the documentary Venice Biennale: Sink or Swim, set to air on BBC2 just days after the Grenfell Tower fire. Out of respect for her family, BBC2 has postponed the airing of the documentary until a later date.
Though much of Saye’s artwork was lost in the fire, several pieces remain, including the piece that hangs in the Tate until the end of the month. Titled “Southiou,” it is a silk screen print from a series titled Dwellings: In This Space We Breathe.
Saye was born and raised in Britain, and much of her work, including “Southiou,” is influenced by her Gambian heritage.
Andrew Wilson, Tate curator of modern and contemporary British art, told The New York Times that the print “celebrates the leap that Khadija made with this work and might also stand in some way as a means to remember her and her neighbors in the community in Grenfell Tower who were tragically killed.”
Saye’s social media reveals a dedicated young artist full of enthusiasm for the success she was beginning to gain in the art world, like this message to her mother, who was also killed in the fire.
Messages of mourning from friends, family, and art professionals also reveal how much she and her artwork will be missed. David Wilson, co-curator of the Diaspora Pavilion, told The New York Times that now “everyone is talking about her all around the world.”
Artists hope to create works that outlive them, and that’s what Saye did. We hope the recognition of her talent and spirit brings some comfort to those who knew her.