Crowdfunded exhibition seeks to tell true stories of the Grenfell community

Gold & Ashes aims to rehumanise the tragedy through photography
Yosola Olorunshola
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A photography project that aims to bring dignity and honour to the true stories of the Grenfell community has launched a crowdfunding appeal.
Launched by photographer Feruza Afewerki, the Gold & Ashes project seeks to “highlight the humanity and courage of this beautiful community.”
To bring the project to life, a crowdfunding campaign has been launched to raise £20,000 that will go towards creating a photo book and exhibition to share survivor stories and intimate memories of those who lost their lives in the fire.
Afewerki lost her sister and her niece in the tragedy that killed 72 people on 14 June 2017. On the crowdfunding page, she recounts memories of her sister who lived on the 19th floor of the tower.
“Amal Ahmedin was my big sister and one of the most vibrant, stylish and loving people I knew growing up,” she said. “She lived life to the full. Her infectious joy lit up any room and she lived to see those around her thriving and happy.
“Her door and heart were always open. Throughout her life she learned to speak six languages because she was always making new friends.”
It is personal stories like this that the Gold & Ashes team seek to record, refocusing the narrative on the human lives at the centre.
“Grenfell is one of the greatest injustices of our time, a needless tragedy that caused the loss of 72 innocent lives in London,” Afewerki said. “We hope to rewrite the current narrative, rehumanising this tragedy through photography.”
The project will culminate in a week-long exhibition in time for the third anniversary of the Grenfell fire in 2020. Independent curator Marie-Kathrin Blanck, who is currently based at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter as part of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Photography Curators’ Training programme, will curate the exhibition. She hopes to reflect the personal and collaborative process at the heart of Gold & Ashes.
“Feruza’s photography approaches the stories of the Grenfell community in a very emphatic way and refocuses the lens on the people behind the tragedy,” Blanck said.
“This project highlights the power of community, even in the photography process. The resulting images are works of collaboration between the photographer and the person portrayed in them. They give power to the subject so that they become a co-creator and author of their own story. This is also what we hope to communicate through the exhibition and forms the basis of the curatorial approach: to reflect the power of this collaborative journey,” she said.
The project is supported by Grenfell United, the Kensington & Chelsea Foundation, Candour Creatives and Westway Trust.
All profits made from the Gold & Ashes photo book will go towards supporting mental and emotional wellbeing services for the Grenfell community.

The crowdfunding appeal closes on 27 July 2019 – donate to Gold and Ashes here.

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