Khadija Saye  

1992 – 2017


It is with profound sadness that we remember our wonderful friend and colleague, Khadija Saye, who along with her mother, Mary Mendy, was tragically killed in the Grenfell Tower fire on June 14.

Khadija worked at PEER as a Creative Access intern from June 2015 to April 2016 when she became a much loved member of the small and close knit PEER family. In addition to working on exhibitions, such as Joy Gerrard's Protest Crowd, and general office administration, she became very intimately involved in our fundraising campaigns for the public realm and gallery improvements. This ranged from running the tombola on the Hoxton Street Saturday market, to being the key liaison between Sotheby's and a number of artists who had generously donated to our participation to an auction in March 2016.

But most of all, Khadija's enormous talent was in her ability to communicate with people. She spoke easily and listened graciously, and it was for this reason we were keen to invite Khadija to  continue working with us on specific projects after her internship. One project in particular, which perfectly combined her photography and communication skills, was a  poster publication for the relaunch of the refurbished galleries and local responses to Angela de la Cruz's inaugural exhibition.

When Khadija began at PEER, she had just returned from a visit to the Venice Biennale with the International Curators Forum (ICF) and was filled with enthusiasm for the work that she saw there. In 2016, when she found out that she had been selected to return to Venice with the ICF the following year as an exhibiting artist in the Diaspora Pavilion, she was overjoyed at the prospect of having her work seen by international audiences. The work that she produced for the exhibition, which she titled Dwelling: in this space we breath, demonstrated a leap in her development as a mature artist and the excitement from fellow artists, curators and press was palpable. Her learning and growth as a direct result of her experiences with ICF and at Venice was particularly evident in the strong bond and friendship that she made with her artist mentor Dave Lewis, and as well as co-exhibiting artists, particularly Barbara Walker and Abbas Zahedi. She was also indebted to the support and guidance of co-exhibiting artist, Nicola Green whom she had befriended in 2014 and had worked for as a studio assistant.

We are honoured to have had the opportunity to learn from the beauty of Khadija's spirit and the warmth of her heart. 

We are immensely proud that we provided Khadija with an enriching experience working in the arts, and that she became a vociferous champion of PEER's ambition to make great art part of daily life. She wrote of her work with us:

My experience as a Gallery Trainee at PEER has been extremely influential in my career path and professional development within the arts industry. Having graduated with a BA in Photography 2 years prior, PEER offered me my first paid job within the arts. Being part of PEER gave me the chance to see and learn about all aspects of running a small arts organisation. I had the unique opportunity to be involved in projects starting from an initial conversation until the final outcome which added great value to my experience. 

Upon completing my internship, I felt confident in the knowledge I had gained, especially in contemporary art and the many ways everyone can engage with it. My professional network has expanded greatly through the contacts I made during my time at PEER which has been beneficial to my career progression.  As an organisation that puts great emphasis on meaningful engagement with local audiences, they reaffirmed my belief in the importance of contemporary art and how we can all benefit from it.  PEER has the special ability to break down barriers and make great art accessible to all, which is something I strive to pursue within my career.

We are working with Creative Access to set up an internship in Khadija’s name. Should you be interested to learn more, please contact ingrid@peeruk.org

Our colleague and Khadija's fellow Creative Access intern at PEER, Sanaz Movahedi has written about their friendship in this article in The Observer, and Ingrid Swenson contributed to an obituary in The Art Newspaper.