It is hard to believe that it has been a month since the Grenfell Tower fire claimed the lives of at least 80 people and altered the lives of so many. To honour the victims of the tragedy, British artist Ben Eine is painting a mural at Village Underground, London.
Today and tomorrow, Eine will be completing the art work which is sponsored by street and social justice project, Paint the Change, and the London venue, Village Underground. Using discounted equipment provided by HSS hire company they hope to complete the mural by Sunday night.
A work in progress: Ben Eine painting over the previous mural on the wall
Eine explained why the project is so important: “As a Londoner with deep roots in the city’s subculture, I am proud and privileged to be involved in this important and historic initiative. Our hope for this mural, which we’re painting in response to the Grenfell fire, is that it will help keep this discussion alive and bring the victims and survivors out of the shadows so that they can receive justice.” He said.
The painting will use the words of a poem entitled 'Grenfell Tower' written by Booker Prize-winning Nigerian writer Ben Okri. Okri wrote the poem in the aftermath of the fire and it has since been broadcast on Channel Four and published in the Financial Times.
The poem in its entirety will be stencilled on the 120 square metre mural wall behind the main text which will read: “You saw it in the tears of those who survived,” a line from the poem.
“I wanted to pick a line that wasn’t hurtful or brutal but was poignant.” Said Eine.
Ben Eine hard at work
The Founder of Paint the Change is Mazier Bahri, an Iranian-Canadian journalist and film maker. He started the project to stimulate dialogue around urgent social issues through the arts. The Grenfell Tower artwork is the projects first mural.
Bahari said: “I couldn’t stop crying when I saw that Ben Okri had said it all in his beautiful poem... I repeated one line for days: ‘You heard it in the cries in the air howling for justice.’ This mural is our attempt to share Ben’s poem with rest of the world.”
Ben Okri’s writing has touched on political issues since the beginning of his career and this poem is no exception. He lives in North Kensington, near where the fire took place.
“I think it [the mural] is an extraordinary idea…Anything that can draw attention to that outrage to humanity, anything that can commemorate the dead and help the survivors has my support.” Okri said.
Paint the Change was born out of Bahari’s street art and human rights project, Education is not a crime, a project which raises awareness of education inequality. The new project, Paint the Change, will use art and film to address a number of issues including injustice against minorities, environmental degradation and other social causes.
“Our wall in Shoreditch is an attempt to reflect the anger in west London in our corner of the city…We’re honoured to have Ben Okri’s blessing, and proud to be working with Ben Eine who’s going to create a new masterpiece on this wall.” Said Bahari.
You can visit the mural which is located in Shoreditch on Holywell Lane. The wall has hosted many murals over the years.