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Dunkirk and Calais, February 28-29, 2024

The weather over the past few days has been changeable in northern France, with heavy clouds opening up into vast sky scapes and swathes of blue. But there is always a tension as calmer weather brings more small boat crossings, and today the sad news followed of further tragic loss of life in the English Channel.

Over the two days we and the work shifted positions, zooming in and out with scale, small to large and back again. This included moving from Dunkirk back to Calais.

Yesterday we were out on the edge of Dunkirk with our partners @medecinsdumonde working with their impressive medical team. Unusually for us we spent some time playing with a group of children. In the wasteland three younger boys played with our large wooden bricks, piling them up, then tipping them out onto the gravel, putting them back into the red box, moving the box, decanting the bricks and starting the process all over again. They worked hard and collectively, a brilliant example of ‘play as work’ in action.

Today is February 29th, a day that only comes around every four years. We were pleased to be back in the day centre in Calais alongside our other partners @caritasfrance. Here The Community Table was full and well used, including by some of those who survived the series of boats that got into trouble last night. We also witnessed a mirror image of the serious play the children were engaged in yesterday but on a smaller scale with a series of detailed structures and houses built across the table, the miniature bricks getting reused and reimagined again and again.

Others typed poignant pieces of prose or immersed themselves in reading poetry @poetry_translation. As we were packing up, a young man commented on how much he loves the materials on the table, while we ourselves marvel at people’s capacity to be creative, inventive, resilient and to have leaps of imagination.

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