In a sombre but heartwarming ceremony last night (19 July), PEER art space—in association with North and South Arden Estate tenants—named the community garden, trees and seating outside the gallery on Hoxton Street as Khadija’s Garden, in memory of Khadija Saye, who died, along with her mother Mary Mendy, in the Grenfell Tower fire on 14 June. Khadija Saye worked at PEER as a Creative Access Intern from July 2015 to April 2016 and played a significant role in fundraising for and then planting the garden which was unveiled as part of the gallery refurbishment last year. After she finished her stint as a PEER intern, Khadija had continued to be an important part of the close-knit PEER family, as was confirmed by emotional speeches from PEER director Ingrid Swenson and her fellow Creative Access intern and friend Sanaz Movahedi, along with Creative Access CEO Josie Dobrin.
PEER director Ingrid Swenson with her husband, and Tate curator, Andrew Wilson
Swenson’s husband, Tate curator Andrew Wilson, read an untitled poem by William Blake celebrating the song of birds—especially appropriate as part of the garden consists of Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson’s sculptural bird and insect boxes modeled on the compact social housing in the area. Also present was the Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, along with artists and supporters of PEER, including Sokari Douglas Camp, Bob and Roberta Smith, Fiona Banner and Jeff McMillan as well as members of Khadija Saye’s family, most notably her father Mohammadou Saye. PEER and Creative Access are fundraising for a programme of internships
to continue in Khadija’s name so that her legacy can benefit future generations.