Grenfell Tower

London, England, UK

Burned 2017

The Disappointed Tourist: Grenfell Tower, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 24 x 18″ (61 x 46 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

Grenfell Tower was a 24-story apartment building that was part of the Lancaster West Estate, a council estate in North Kensington. It was designed by Clifford Wearden and Associates and built in 1972. On 14 June 2017, a devastating fire broke out, eventually causing 72 deaths and over 70 injuries; 223 people managed to escape. It was the deadliest UK residential fire since World War II. The first inquiry into the fire revealed that the rapid spread of the fire resulted from the exterior cladding’s failure to comply with fire regulations and that the fire service took too long to order the residents to evacuate. A second inquiry is underway. This painting is based on an uncredited photograph.

I chose it because the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy shows how little the government care about the poor and those of the BAME community. Grenfell is in one of the richest areas of the UK, yet no action has been taken to rectify the mistakes that resulted in the horrific fire. The same would not be true if tower was filled with the rich white neighbours who live next door. Ruby R.