At museums with the statue of Tate Britain, one can guarantee that even when shuffling between rooms the eyes will be occupied.
Yesterday (September 12), the museum unveiled a beautiful new work on its walls; one that both captures attention and provokes a poignant reaction given its subject matter.
Chris Ofili is behind Tate Britain’s newest staircase piece, with the work – named Requiem – created to remember fellow artist Khadija Saye, a photographer who lost her life in the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017.
Reqiuem is heavily inspired by a meeting between both artists at a Venice exhibit of their work in May of the same year, around one month before the fire, and pays tribute to everyone affected by the disaster.
The design spans across three walls in the north staircase of the Tate Britian’s free area, meaning anyone who visits the museum can be bowled over by the piece. Facing the wall, visitors will see the left-hand side of Chris Ofili’s piece showing a figure that represents a prophet or witness that holds the tower ‘as though conducting a ceremony of loss and his tears fall into an ocean of despair’.
Khadija Saye is shown in the piece, with her stance taken from her work Andichurai 2017, which is a print also on display at the museum. On the right-hand side, there are figures making music under a tree to portray a landscape of ‘hope and peace’. In the work of art, Chris Ofili also aims to connect London, Venice, and his home in Trinidad.
Prior to revealing Ofili’s work, the gallery held private viewings for Saye’s family as well as the Grenfell community earlier in the month.
Previously, Chris Ofili made a political tribute piece in the form of his work No Woman, No Cry in 1998, which was dedicated to Stephan Lawrence and his mother Doreen. Ofili said: “A statement of sadness was manifested in No Woman, No Cry. That feeling of injustice has returned. I wanted to make a work in tribute to Khadija Saye. Remembering the Grenfell Tower fire, I hope that the mural will continue to speak across time to our collective sadness.”
Chris Ofili’s Requiem will remain in place for at least 10 years and takes the mantle from David Tremlett’s Drawing For Free Thinking, which was present at the Tate Britain for 12 years after arriving in September 2011.
Read more about Chris Ofili’s piece here. The Tate Britian is open every day between 10am – 6pm, and can be found at Millbank, SW1P 4RG.