London artist Ben Eine has painted a new mural to honour the victims and survivors of the Grenfell Tower Fire one-month after the fire claimed more than 80 lives. The words that Ben Eine painted were from a poem that was written days after the tragic fire by the Booker Prize-winning Nigerian poet and North Kensington resident Ben Okri.
The fire broke out in the early morning on 14 June 2017 at the 24-storey building, started by a faulty fridge-freezer on the fourth floor. The growth of the fire is believed to have been accelerated by the newly refurbished building’s cheaper exterior cladding, used to keep costs down. Earlier concerns from the residents about fire safety of the building were also ignored.
The 120-square-metre mural has been painted on the wall of the Village Underground on Holywell Lane, Shoreditch, east London. The lines “You saw it in the tears of those who survived” are painted in Eine’s typography circus and shutter font, with the full 1,600-word poem written in the background to the main text.
“It was like a burnt matchbox in the sky.
It was black and long and burnt in the sky.
You saw it through the flowering stump of trees.
You saw it beyond the ochre spire of the church.
You saw it in the tears of those who survived.
You saw it through the rage of those who survived.”
From Grenfell Tower, June 2017 Ben Okri
The mural, which marks the one-month anniversary of the Grenfell fire.
The mural is part of a social justice art project called Paint the Change. It was founded by journalist and filmmaker Maziar Bahari, who has lived in London for over a decade, who wants to stimulate dialogue around urgent social issues through the arts. The Grenfell fire artwork is the project’s first mural.