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Sails of Tolerance and Digital Shadows

Updated: Jan 30, 2020


Our journey to France this week included today, Friday, in Calais as we return to our fortnightly pattern. Also, travel onwards to Paris to deliver our print series ‘Digital Shadows’ to the Centre Pompidou for a large Calais-focused photographic exhibition opening in mid October. The set of large cyanotype prints, led by Miriam Nabarro, were made with a group of refugees in the Secours Catholique day centre earlier in the summer.

In the morning meeting in Calais we shared images with the Secours Catholique team of The Ship of Tolerance floating on the Thames outside Tate Modern yesterday evening.

The French team were particularly moved to hear of the young refugees who have come through Calais, gathered in London last night to view the ship and the sails they had made in Red Cross centres in England.

The poignancy of sails on the ship made by these young people in the UK alongside those sails made in Calais by young people desperate to get to the UK was not lost on the team. We all know the extent of the journey made to get to the UK – while in Calais the destination is hoped for by the many young refugees currently living on the France-UK border.

The Calais cyanotypes had been carefully sewn onto the sails by the day centre sewing room staff and it was a pleasure to give them a photograph of the ship with sails in situ.


During the afternoon the beginnings of seasonal change was evident with people coming into the day centre with cold hands, jackets and layers of clothing.

An amazing addition in the day centre was announced, showing the innovation and creative energy of people – a pedal-powered washing machine for everyone’s use now positioned in the yard! This, with the beautiful allotment beds carefully tended and even fuller with growth than a week ago, were evidence of the hope and on going resilience that people show.

We were pleased to welcome Paul Bragman from Community Regen to The Community Table alongside a number of people from West and Central Africa. Together we explored topics around the typewriters as diverse as the shape of millet, the size of a Chad refugee camp, tolerating a dinghy crossing when it is your only hope of survival, illiteracy and the drive to overcome it, loss of childhood and a career in plumbing.

These conversations exemplify The Community Table ethos which picks up from the Ship of Tolerance, allowing diversity of people and topics to flourish around the table.

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