Photographer Khadija Saye has been confirmed as one of the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. The 24-year-old artist and another victim, Syrian refugee Mohammed al-Haj Ali, are among the first to be named of the confirmed 30 dead in the London disaster. Khadija’s mother, Mary Mendy, is still missing.
Khadija’s most recent series, Dwelling: in this space we breathe is currently on show at the Venice Biennale in the Diaspora Pavilion. The work explores “the migration of traditional Gambian spiritual practices and the deep rooted urge to find solace within a higher power” as part of an exhibition looking at nostalgia, memory and tradition. In the exhibition catalogue, it explains Khadija’s work as “created out of the artist’s personal need for spiritual grounding after experiencing trauma”.
“This work is based on the search for what gives meaning to our lives and what we hold onto in times of despair and life changing challenges,” it states. “We exist in the marriage of physical and spiritual remembrance. It is in these spaces that we identify with our physical and imagined bodies.”
Her candid and personal past series, including Home.Coming, a collection of portraits taken in Gambia, Crowned, a depiction of afro caribbean hair styles, and Eid can be seen on her website.
The family of Khadija confirmed to Sky News that she died in the fire. MP for Tottenham David Lammy had earlier launched an appeal on Twitter to find her, calling her “a dear friend, a beautiful soul and emerging artist”.
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