Works of Love and Humanity – exhibition
Artist, poet and performer Damel Carayol says ‘In each artist’s life will one day come an incident, an epiphany, a significant wind of change or a truly horrific incident that affects their art, in a way that may consume them. Thank God for expression. And further, for a platform to express, share, let off steam, fight injustice, and to seriously aim to the contribution making things better.’
For Carayol the tragedy of the fire at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017 was that epiphany. His exhibition at Karamel in Wood Green is his personal response to the fire and its aftermath.
Carayol was not a passive observer of events. His cousin and her daughter perished on the 20th floor of the tower. The period between 14-16 June saw the families’ hope evaporate as the deaths were finally confirmed. His family, he notes, unlike so many of the grieving families, had the relative comfort that the bodies were found.
‘Eyesore – The Final Straw’ was painted on the morning of Friday 16 June. Carayol explains: “Hearing a report being read on the radio which stated that the refurbishment of Grenfell had been seen to be aesthetically pleasing from the Eastern side of the borough and from the West, it was my final straw. It was lucky that I had one canvas left, black paint on the shelf and a couple of brushes nearby. My anger poured out through paint.” Other works such as ‘No Cover Up’ and ‘Foot of Grenfell’ quickly followed. However, the focus moved on to other new works highlighting the fight for Grenfell.
Carayol’s work has been dictated by the need to explore the issue of Love and Humanity that Grenfell stirred up, from his unique and highly personal perspective. He explains: “The scale of the Grenfell disaster is fully felt by the bereaved, the survivors and the neighbourhood. But this event impacted far beyond the immediate community to every beating heart that cares. The souls lost were lost in such circumstances that challenge us to make a leap of change for better social cohesion. The experience of Grenfell serves to reinforce the need to challenge, and hold accountable, unworthy authorities and bureaucracies, with a contempt for people who are the heart and soul of their communities.”
Carayol feels that there is a need for reflection about the economic, social and cultural significance of the tragedy before the process of healing and reconciliation can begin. The conversations and reflection from the visitors to ‘Works of Love and Humanity’ are part of this discourse.
The exhibition runs until 30th March 2018 at Karamel, 4 Coburg Road, London N22 6UJ. Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 11am-6pm