British art curator Sue McAlpine was saddened and horrified by the living conditions of families in makeshift migrant camps, in Calais. The latter visited the camps in February to see if she could collect stories from migrants living in Calais for an exhibition in London – an idea she had while watching and reading media reports about the situation there.
“I was just so horrified by some of the reporting in the news that I felt it was really important for people who are refugees or migrants – either in Calais or in other camps – to have their voices heard,” McAlpine said.
The neglected camp shelters around 4,000 migrants from poor and strife-torn regions in Africa and the Middle East, most of whome seek to reach Britain where working opportunities are on a wider scale.
McAlpine said she made her mind up to put together the London exhibition after sharing tea with migrant families inside their tents and hearing their stories.
“But at the same time, I felt this was the way I could help,” McAlpine said. “Most of the people I spoke to really wanted to tell their story and they said, ‘We want our voices heard, please tell people in the UK what it’s like.'”
Organized by the Migration Museum Project and showcased in an east London gallery, McAlpine’s exhibition, ‘Call me by my name: stories from Calais and beyond’, features discarded life jackets used by refugees who arrived in Greece by boat, as well as professional paintings and amateur photos by migrants in Calais.