Grenfell Tower: Chris Ofili creates tribute at Tate to artist killed in fire

Turner Prize-winning artist Chris Ofili has created a large-scale work at Tate Britain to remember a fellow artist killed in the Grenfell Tower fire.

Ofili's work, Requiem, which adorns the north staircase, pays tribute to Khadija Saye and the other 71 people who died as a result of the 2017 fire.

He said he wanted the work to say "remember this".

"For something like that to never happen again, we have to be reminded that it did," he said.

In an audio recording on Tate Britain's website, Ofili - who won the prestigious Turner Prize in 1998 - described driving past the west London tower.

"It wasn't the first time that I'd seen it but, before, I always found that I always looked away instinctively quite soon after looking at it.

"But this time I became quite self-conscious of that so I decided that I was going to continue looking."

He added: "These thoughts of like just utter discomfort, almost physical feelings of looking at something and being reminded of something that was really, really terrible.

"All those feelings started to surface in my mind and I felt that the luxury of being able to indulge at looking at something, then being able to look away - that luxury was no longer tenable. That I actually had to start to face up to that discomfort."

As he did, he said memories of meeting Saye at the Venice Biennale, an international cultural exhibition, came flooding back. They had met just one month before she was killed.

In part of the artwork at Tate Britain, Saye can be seen holding a Gambian incense pot, which is traditionally used to drive away evil spirits from the home, up to her ear.

It is based on one of her own self-portraits, which she was exhibiting at Venice when they met and is now on show at Tate Britain.

The body of water flowing across the artwork, he said, was a way of linking Venice and London and a way of "symbolising the shared connection I had with Khadija".

"I'm trying to honour this brief meeting and the power or energy or charisma that I felt about her and unfortunately now has just become an emotional memory for me, and I suppose a kind of collective grief around her loss as an individual and as an artist," he said.

The work has been painted directly on to the gallery's walls, where it will stay for 10 years.

"Public art can hold spaces of grief and it can keep alive collective memories of events that might otherwise completely just fade away in time, just as life inevitably moves on," he said.

No Woman, No Cry (left) and another artwork by Chris Ofili on display
No Woman, No Cry (left) created as a tribute to Stephen Lawrence's mother, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, is also back on display at Tate Britain

In 1998, Ofili made No Woman, No Cry as a tribute to murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence and his mother, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, which is also on display at the gallery.

Of Requiem, he said: "I do hope that it will give the viewer an opportunity to really look and feel and be aware of their emotional responses - anger, sadness and any other emotion is valid and relevant.

"Emotions change and opinions change over time, but this work will stay the same. And I hope that it prompts a collective paying attention of a devastating historical event."

Follow BBC London on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Send your story ideas to