Nak Bejjen

Khadija Saye (1992 - 2017)

silkscreen print on paper

  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Home Office, 2 Marsham Street
    These silkscreens are editioned from a series of nine tintypes by Khadija Saye, in support of the Estate of Khadija Saye and the Khadija Saye IntoArts Programme. Six of the original tintypes were presented in the Diaspora Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale. Titled Dwelling: in this space we breathe, these works explored what the artist has described as the ‘migration of traditional Gambian spiritual practices’.

    This series was part of an interrogation of her heritage and mixed faith background visible in her previous photographic work. Saye’s parents were both from The Gambia; her mother was Christian and her father is Muslim. Saye described her practice as a means to explore ‘the deep-rooted urge to find solace in a higher power’: 

    The series was created from a personal need for spiritual grounding after experiencing trauma. The search for what gives meaning to our lives and what we hold onto in times of despair and life changing challenges. [...] Using myself as the subject, I felt it necessary to physically explore how trauma is embodied in the black experience. Whilst exploring the notions of spirituality and rituals, the process of image making became a ritual in itself. [...] The application of the collodion transcends the photographic process, it is a reflection, physical manifestation of my relationship to the deep-rooted tradition of African spirituality. The laborious process involved with tintypes addresses the current disposable era where materials are rapidly produced and short lived.
  • About the artist
    Born in London, Khadija Saye, also known as Ya-Haddy Sisi Saye, was a Gambian-British artist, educator and activist. She died in the Grenfell Tower fire in London, on 14 June 2017, aged 24. Despite her young age, she had achieved growing recognition as a talented artist who had produced significant work, showing extraordinary promise for the future. Saye was the youngest exhibitor in the Diaspora Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale, where her works were shown alongside those of established artists including Isaac Julien, Yinka Shonibare and Barbara Walker. At the age of seven, Saye joined the Carnival Arts Programme run by the London-based organisation, IntoUniversity, and which she attended every summer for over ten years. Through IntoUniversity, she was awarded an Arnold Foundation Scholarship for sixth form at Rugby School where she discovered her interest in photography. Saye graduated with a degree in photography from the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, Surrey. Since her death, Saye’s work has been exhibited at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge in 2018; at a special outdoor display in Westbourne Grove, London, in 2020; and at the British Library as part of the exhibition, 'Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women's Rights' in 2020-21. In 2018, in memory of the artist, the Khadija Saye IntoArts Programme at IntoUniversity was launched. Founded by artist Nicola Green, who was Saye’s mentor and friend, the programme supports and inspires arts-focused activities at IntoUniversity centres across the UK.
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  • Details
    Nak Bejjen
    Portfolio Title
    in this space we breathe
    Number 13 in an edition of 50
    silkscreen print on paper
    height: 61.3 cm; width: 50.2 cm
    Purchased from Victoria Miro in support of the Estate of Khadija Saye and the Khadija Saye IntoArts Programme, with funds raised from print sales from the Robson Orr TenTen Award, a GAC/Outset Annual Commission, 2020
    Victoria Miro, offered in support of the Estate of Khadija Saye and the Khadija Saye IntoArts Programme; from whom purchased by UK Government Art Collection, 17 March 2020
    GAC number