A new project in London honors the late British-Gambian artist Khadija Saye.

Wallace Ludel
Jul 7, 2020 5:09PM, via The Guardian

A street view of the public art exhibition, “In This Space we Breathe” featuring the work of Khadija Saye. Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images for Eiesha Bharti Pasricha.

Khadija Saye, the prodigious British-Gambian artist and photographer who died in 2017’s infamous Grenfell Tower fire at the age of 24, is being honored with a public exhibition in London titled “In This Space We Breathe.” Prior to her death, her work was included in the 2017 Venice Biennale, where she was the youngest artist in the show’s Diaspora Pavilion.

For this public exhibition, nine poster-sized prints of Saye’s work have been installed along a façade in West London just over a mile from the former site of the Grenfell Tower. The prints were originally tintype images created by Saye—only the six that were in the Venice Biennale remain, as nearly all of Saye’s work was destroyed in the fire.

“This exhibition reminds us of the dignity and humanity with which we remember those who lost their lives,” David Lammy, British Labour Party politician and a friend of Saye’s, told The Guardian. Lammy spoke of Saye’s “tender, beautiful and creative soul,” and the ways in which the body of work she was building “reflects that deep sensibility that was part of her personality.”

Coinciding with “In This Space We Breathe” is the launch of the Khadija Saye IntoArts Programme, which will focus on developing arts education in disadvantaged communities, as well as putting on public exhibitions. The program was established by the artist Nicola Green, who is married to Lammy and once employed Saye as a studio assistant. Green is also the administrator of the Khadija Saye estate.

“It is our deep hope that there will be many many hundreds of Khadijas in the years to come,” Lammy told The Art Newspaper on the occasion of the exhibition’s launch. “I hope that the eight- or nine-year old who walks past in the next few months steps back, breathes, and is inspired.”

“In This Space We Breathe” is the first in a larger series of exhibitions referred to collectively as “Breath is Invisible.” In the coming months, site-specific commissions by Martyn Ware, Zachary Eastwood-Bloom, and Joy Gregory will make up the next installment of the series.

Further Reading: Promising Young Artist Killed in Grenfell Tower Fire Receives Memorial Exhibit at Tate

Wallace Ludel