Graffiti tributes commemorating the victims of the Grenfell Tower have been appearing in West London most notably under the westway underpass close to where the tragic fire took place.
It’s not an uncommon response for graffiti writers when awful things happen to commemorate in this way. Many will be part of the same type of communities affected by the tragedy and hold a deep wish to express their solidarity and sorrow through their art.
Visiting the site to take a look at and record the tributes it was obvious just how much this community has been affected. With the burnt frame of the tower still visible and dominant in the skyline this is a constant reminder as to what happened to this community in the early hours of 14 June 2017.
Grenfell Tribute Graffiti under the Westway
Wandering from the graffiti tributes in the underpass of the westway through towards the Latimer Road tube station behind which the tower looms there are plenty of signs of the impact this has had on the people of this area. Posters of missing loved ones are pasted onto walls and lampposts to the extent that the faces which look out start to become ever more familiar.
Much of the area around the tower has been cordoned off as the building is inherently unsafe. The tributes to the victims of the fire start to get ever more dense the closer you get to the tower with much of Bramley Road which passes in front being covered with messages, flowers and other tokens.
The tone though is a mixture of sorrow and anger at how the tragedy could have been allowed to happen. Many messages ask the question why and demand justice for the victims of the tower. Others pay tribute to the emergency services who risked their lives fighting the flames but most were filled with heart-filled messages commemorating the place and it’s people.
Emotions are undoubtedly raw here though. This is one of the poorest parts of London with a high proportion of social housing. It is striking when you visit that the Grenfell Tower itself is a mere 5 mins walk down the street to some of the most expensive and grand homes in the city.
We Are One
Representing the extremes of emotion I saw one woman, filled with sorrow, crying into the arms of a stranger as she stood by the cordon looking out onto the tower. Another man, walking past and seeing people taking photographs burst with rage exclaiming that it wasn’t a tourist sight. The reaction was perhaps unfair to the female recipient given that only moments before she had laid flowers and was certainly no voyeur. Such are the raw extreme of emotions triggered by this tragedy and the fishbowl type pressure which this community has suddenly been thrust into.
Back to the graffiti tributes and it is likely that more will appear over the coming days and weeks, a creatives response to an awful event but one which for the moment at least serves to keep the memory of the place and its people alive.
The graffiti tributes to the Grenfell Tower were visited on Tuesday 20 June 2017 and all photographs were taken then. I am unfamiliar with many of the artists so haven’t been able to credit however if you do know who they are please let me know and I will update.