A picture of Kadhija Saye that is on show at the Venice Biennale

Museum sector pays tribute to Khadija Saye

Nicola Sullivan, 21.06.2017
Museum worker and artist died in the Grenfell Tower fire
Tributes have been paid to Khadija Saye, a museum worker and artist, who lost her life in the Grenfell Tower fire.
 
The 24-year-old worked in the learning team at London Transport Museum (LTM) and at the time of her death was on the brink of international recognition for her work as an artist. Her artwork is currently on display at the Venice Biennale, and more recently Tate Britain, which has paid a special tribute to her and the others who died in the blaze that broke out on 14 June at Grenfell Tower in north Kensington, London.
 

 
Khadija will be deeply missed by colleagues at LTM, where she had worked since August last year after being recruited through the institution’s Young Freelancer progamme. According to her line manager, Dhikshana Pering, Khadija worked three jobs to survive and be the “artist and the person she wanted to be”.
 
Pering said it was difficult to explain the heartbreak she and the rest of the LTM team felt at the news of Khadija’s death.  She said she last saw the artist as she was preparing to leave for Venice.
 
“We ended knowing she would have many tales to tell us from Venice; how she took all the challenges head on and the great time she would have”, said Pering. “She would return and we would be in her final months as a Young Freelancer, seeing how far she had come, having yet another string to her bow, and more people to add to her journey.
 
“As I said goodbye to Khadija that day, I told her not forget me when she reached the top and to make sure I had VIP tickets to her exhibitions. She promised [to do so], and with a naughty chuckle said she would make sure there was plenty of tea and cake for me. We hugged. I will hold on to that hug for the rest of my life.”
 
Khadija worked with visual artist Almudena Romero on her series of pieces for the installation Dwelling: in this space we breathe, currently on show at the Venice Biennale.
 
Romero said: “It was a great pleasure to collaborate with Khadija on the series. We had plans to continue. She was supposed to come to my studio the day after and I was supposed to treat her with tea and cakes. I believe we would have had a very sweet meeting and an even sweeter collaboration.
 
I'll miss her terribly, but I am happy I had the pleasure to meet her and work with her.  I like thinking about what she brought to my life, rather than the opportunity we'll miss to get to know each other more and collaborate.  She brought beautiful things to my life and made me grow as a person and as an artist.”
 
Khadija was very active when it came to tackling issues facing the museum sector and belonged to Museum Detox – a group set up by Sara Wajid, the head of interpretation at Birmingham Museums, to provide networking opportunities and support for BAME museum professionals.
 

 
Sharon Heal, the director of the Museums Association, said: "This is a real loss for museums and the arts and activism in the sector. Our heartfelt condolences go to her family, friends, Museum Detoxers and London Transport Museum staff. If I take anything from this it is only to campaign harder for equality and diversity in our sector and in the world."
 
LTM is collecting donations for the Grenfell Tower victims and has long-term plans to commemorate Khadija, who lived on the 20th floor of the building with her mother, who has been reported as missing.
 
Jess and Matt Turtle, founders of the Museum of Homelessness (MoH), have been supporting the Grenfell Tower relief effort and making connections with organisations such as the Radical Housing Network, of which the Grenfell Action Group is a member. MoH posted a statement about the tragedy on its website.           
 
 
More tributes paid to Khadija Saye
 
“She was an amazing talented person who was so kind”, participant on LTM’s Route into Work programme.
 
“Such sad news for such a lovely soul”, TfL staff member
 
“Sadly, such a loss at a time of a promising career, we can do no less but to celebrate Khadija’s short life with her captured artistic images on film and influences on others,” TfL staff member

Creative Access has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money to establish paid internships for talented BAME young people in the arts in memory of Khadija.

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