'Smoke & Mirrors' - Grenfell Tower

In the early hours of 14th June 2017 I received a text message from my daughter in Leeds.

She wanted to know if I was OK because there were reports of a fire near me. I scrambled out of bed and made my way to the balcony outside, onto my bathroom patio. I could not see the tower – just a thick column of foul billowing smoke, shifting slowly side to side. I went instead to the front room and opened the window. What I saw will stay with me forever. The tower – two blocks down from where I am situated on Lancaster Road – seemed to have leapt forwards: alive, burning and pungent – I felt like I could reach out my hand and touch it. The air was full of distant sirens and the chugging of helicopters.

“EVERYTHING HAD CHANGED.”

I am an artist who primarily uses photography and photographic materials to explore notions of community, neighbourhood and local identity. In doing so I hope to reflect the effect that infrastructural change, national policy and local activism has on the general ‘health’, capital, assets and resilience of (these) social structures and the populace. The project I wish to develop is entitled ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ and is concerned with photographing the aftermath and events surrounding the Grenfell Tower disaster of June 14th 2017, which happened a few hundred yards away from where I live.

This project has led me to explore the physical and metaphorical qualities of surface, exploiting analogue materials, alternative processes, time-based media and installation.

Early this year I began burying strips of negative film, printed photographs and Polaroid images in the ground at the foot of the Tower. These artefacts carry the imprinted colours and shapes made by (toxic) fluids passing over them while underground.

As time passes and media attention waxes and wanes, I am attempting to use photographs as questions, reminders and challenges; to record and mark time; charting the collective trauma amongst some of the most economically deprived people living in one of the wealthiest London Boroughs, who are frustrated and angry that such a preventable tragedy could happen.