Turner Prize winner, Chris Ofili has unveiled a mural and fresco around a stairwell at the Tate Britain. Entitled “Requiem”.
The work commemorates the Grenfell Tower fire with Khadija Saye, a young photographer who was among the 72 people who died in the fire, as the centerpiece of the painting.
Commenting on the work, Chris Ofili noted in a statement that “I intended the mural to invite reflection on loss, spirituality and transformation. And particularly these elements are important to me today in 2023, as we are waiting for the final report of the Grenfell inquiry to be published.”
The Grenfell Tower fire of 14 JUNE 2017 was one of the most tragic residential fire incidents to hit the city of London since the Second World War.
The final report of the Panel of Inquiry chaired by The Rt Hon Sir Martin Moore-Bick which was initially due this autumn is now expected in 2024.
Based on findings from the Phase 1 report released in October 2019, the fire is believed to have been “started by an electrical fault in a large fridge-freezer in the kitchen of Flat 16...."
It then spread quickly to other floors. Investigators believe the fire was exacerbated by dangerously combustible aluminium composite cladding and external insulation which made it hard for the fire to be contained.
The report continues: “Firefighters from the London Fire Brigade (LFB) attended the fire and within minutes of their arrival had extinguished the fire within the kitchen of Flat 16, but by that time the fire had already escaped into the cladding where they were unable to fight it successfully. Once established within the cladding the fire spread rapidly up the outside of the building. Within 20 minutes a vertical column of flame had reached the top of the building on the east side from where it progressed around the rest of the structure, so that within a few hours it had engulfed almost the whole of the building.”
Ofili's work calls renewed attention to the tragedy as we await the final report in 2024.
*Ofili’s painting will be available onsite for 10 years.
**Photo image credit: Tate Britain