Images from 'Smoke and Mirrors' - made in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy of June 14th 2017.


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 in a moment.
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. This project 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. 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; using the physical and metaphorical qualities of surface, exploiting analogue materials, alternative processes, graphic communication, time-based media and installation to chart the collective trauma among some of the most economically deprived people living in one of the wealthiest London Boroughs; people who are frustrated and angry that such a preventable tragedy could happen.

‘Steve Mepsted’s ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ series draws attention to a disaster which demands to be remembered, a massive fire that engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower public housing estate in 2017, killing 72 of its inhabitants. As a local resident constantly reminded of these events by the tower’s looming presence, Mepsted’s work feels both like an attempt to process a disaster symptomatic of London’s inequalities and directly aggravated by them, while calling on others to remember what happened.’

Lewis Bush – in ‘Capital Culture’, Essay for Unseen Magazine issue no. 6.

Memorial Candles found discarded at the foot of Grenfell Tower
'Crying Man and Grenfell Tower - 72 Red Dots - Sold' Collage 2019
Dark still life with overlaid petals
Weighing scales, soil and petals
Buried photograph of Grenfell Tower - retrieved after 5 months
'Before the White Shroud' Grenfell Tower Collage 2019
Three Spring Circles
Blue Smoke Circle on Tower
Blue Tower, Smoke and Leaves
Yellow Leaves and Winter Trees
Silent Walk June 14th 2019
'The Burning of Grenfell Tower was Political' - Testimony from Anthony Anaxagorou
'The Burning of Grenfell Tower was Political' Collage 2018
'THE FIFTEENTH SHEET' - Testimony. Collage 2018
'I ALWAYS PICK UP THE PHONE' - Testimony. Collage 2019
'The Fifteenth Sheet' - Survivor Testimony. Collage 2018
Pinhole images of a 6 month duration. Exposed on paper placed in beer cans which were installed on roofs facing South towards Grenfell Tower. The arcs of light are a record of the sun as it passes through the sky each day.
Pinhole images showing the passage of the Sun over 6 Months