Entertainment

In Case You Needed Reminding: Refugees Are People, Not Statistics

Graphic designer Mathilda Della Torre's project "Conversations From Calais" aims to bear witness for the thousands of displaced people stuck in France, trying to reach the UK.
August 14, 2020, 8:15am
Conversations From Calais by Mathilda Della Torre
Throughout August, VICE UK will be spotlighting projects from graduates across University of the Arts London.

Every summer, University of the Arts London holds physical showcases for their graduates. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, everything for 2020 has been moved online to UAL Graduate Showcase – a virtual platform created with IBM, hosting work from thousands of students across art, design, fashion, communication, media and performing arts.

Throughout August, VICE UK will be spotlighting projects from graduates across the six colleges that make up University of the Arts London.

Artist: Mathilda Della Torre (Central Saint Martins)

Using graphic design as both a starting point and a tool, Delle Torre’s “Conversations From Calais” project aims to re-humanise those affected by the refugee crisis by using public space to share conversations volunteers have had with migrants in Calais.

Following her experience volunteering in the French port city over the course of two years, Della Torre started the project in October of 2019 as a way to bear witness for the thousands of displaced people stuck in Calais trying to reach the UK, whose voices are so often silenced or ignored.

The first posters were put up in Dover, based on personal conversations between Della Torre and people she had met while volunteering at the camps. She has also launched an Instagram account to create a visual archive of the posters and reach a wider audience.

'Conversations From Calais' by Mathilda Della Torre

'Conversations From Calais' by Mathilda Della Torre

“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,” says the artist.

"By pasting these posters on walls all around the world, we are taking over public space, commemorating these voices and inspiring social change. I wanted to find a way to break away from how migrants were portrayed in mainstream media by remembering, documenting and commemorating banal but intimate and relatable conversations.”

'Conversations From Calais' by Mathilda Della Torre

'Conversations From Calais' by Mathilda Della Torre

“One of my favourite aspects of this project is that it is open to collaboration. This collection of more than 170 conversations has now been pasted up on walls in 60 cities in five continents, been translated in 15 different languages and has been featured in the press internationally.”

Find out more about Conversations From Calais here.

Discover more at the UAL Graduate Showcase.