top of page


Large text-based black neon sculpture

Lammy’s quotation is succinct, direct, and so freighted - Adrian Searle, The Guardian

Tell the home secretary! -
Jonathan Jones, The Guardian

In 2018, the now shadow foreign secretary made a speech in response to the Windrush scandal. 'I am here because you are there', echoed David Lammy, words which have now inspired not only Elsa James's artwork - opening a new exhibition at Gagosian Rites of Passage - but the exhibition's overarching theme as well - Christina Donoghue, SHOWstudio

The neon cites the words I AM HERE BECAUSE YOU WERE THERE—a universal declaration for many Black people in the African diaspora, lifted from an impassioned speech by the Member of Parliament in 2018 responding to the Windrush scandal, in which British subjects—many of whom had arrived in Britain from Caribbean nations decades earlier—were wrongly detained or threatened with deportation. 

Elsa James DAVID Lammy.jpeg

Installation view, Focal Point Gallery, 2022. Photo Anna Lukala

Elsa James, Focal Point Gallery

Installation view, Focal Point Gallery, 2022. Photo Anna Lukala

Elsa James, Focal Point Gallery

Installation view, Focal Point Gallery with David Lammy MP on Big Screen Southend, 2022. Photo Anna Lukala

Elsa James Gagosian

Installation view, Gagosian, Britainnia Street Gallery,  Photo Lucy Dawkins. Courtesy Gagosian

Ode to David Lammy MP was commissioned by Focal Point Gallery as part of the solo exhibition 'Othered in a region that has been historically Othered' (2022) and generously funded by Arts Council England, Focal Point Gallery and Southend-on-Sea City Council. It was fabricated by Neon Circus and curated by Elsa James.

The neon was first exhibited at Focal Point Gallery between 25 June to 18 Sept 2022the exhibition was also shortlisted for the Freelands Awards 2021. Between 16 Mar to 29 Apr 2023, the neon welcomed viewers in 'Rites of Passage' at Gagosian, Britannia Street gallerya group exhibition curated by Péjú Oshin, featuring work by nineteen contemporary artists who share a history of migration. The neon then went on display in the window gallery at the Bernie Grant Art Centre, located in the MP's Tottenham constituency, from 22 June 2023 to mark the 75th anniversary of Windrush, until 18 December 2023.

Dimensions: 9000 x 300 mm
Edition of 1 + 1AP

bottom of page