Grenfell survivors photo book Gold & Ashes is an intimate portrait of hope
Feruza Afewerki uses photography to hold space for families who lost loved ones
image Feruza Afewerki
words Eve Walker
Created by Feruza Afewerki, who lost her family in the Grenfell fire, Gold & Ashes aims to honour all the families affected by the tragedy and the 72 lives lost on 14 June 2017. The book includes portraits of 56 survivors, shedding light on their stories. All the profits from the book will be donated to support The Grenfell Foundation five years on.
Feruza channelled the grief from losing her sister and niece into the creation of Gold & Ashes, saying, “It’s important we tell our stories as much as we listen to them. I wanted to humanise Grenfell by inviting the community to talk about their brothers and sisters and neighbours, so that they could share their stories of loved ones, and in the process to feel seen and heard and know that we are not alone…”
While commemorating the memory of the lost lives, the book also documents the lives of the survivors and bereaved after Grenfell, sharing the true stories and highlighting the strength and courage of the community.
The Grenfell community still comes together for silent walks on the 14th of every month, showing the gaping hole left by the fire. Feruza explains, “The courage and the care and the love that they’ve shown each other needs to be known and needs to be seen. Almost like a model for people who have gone through tragedy”.
Despite some, albeit slow, progress for safer housing, the Grenfell victims have still not received justice. Justice4Grenfell group organiser Yvette Williams said; “Despite public outcry at the time, and continuous campaigning from many groups, no one has been held accountable and firms involved were even granted immunity from prosecution.” To mark the fifth anniversary of fire, a T-shirt designed by Walé and the team at B-Side, has been released, with all profits going to the ongoing legal fight for justice.
The fight for safer housing continues. It has been announced that ACM cladding – the cladding used on Grenfell – will be banned on future buildings taller than 18m from December 2022. This doesn’t affect existing properties. In fact, it is estimated that around a million people in the UK are still living in unsafe buildings. On the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell tragedy, projects like Gold & Ashes are an important reminder of the scale of the loss and the ongoing fight for safer housing. To learn how more, take a look at the following initiatives and organisations.