Your Space Or Mine
Listening across borders: Conversations From Calais
Our latest Your Space Or Mine collaboration focuses on what began as a DIY poster project initiated by Mathilda Della Torre, a longstanding Calais volunteer working to support migrants and refugees. We asked what first inspired her?
“I started Conversations From Calais after volunteering there for several organisations and every time I came back to London, I felt the need to share what I saw, heard and experienced. I felt so angry about how displaced communities were being portrayed in the media, especially when arriving in the UK from Northern France. I wanted to find a way to break away from this by remembering, documenting and commemorating all the different conversations I’d had with displaced people I’d met there. I thought this would be the simplest, rawest and most powerful way to share my experience. And slowly the project grew from there.”
The ‘refugee jungle’ in Calais may have been razed to the ground by French authorities in 2016 but there’s still a constant stream of displaced people stranded in the port city, anxiously seeking ways to reach the UK and apply for asylum.
Conversations From Calais bears witness to the multiple challenges facing these refugees and migrants. By recounting and sharing their chats with volunteers so many hitherto invisible, silent voices are recovered. “This ever-growing collection of conversations focuses on capturing the diversity of experiences and avoids creating new stereotypes of refugees as villains, heroic figures or hopeless victims.”
You noticed my cracked hands from the cold as we were having tea together. You insisted on giving me some hand cream and told me to take care of my hands. I will never forget the kindness and warmth you showed me in that moment, even after all the hostility you had experienced from the world.