Launched in October 2019 by the French/Italian graphic designer Mathilda Della Torre, Conversations From Calais began as a DIY poster project, pasting conversations between volunteers and migrants on walls in Dover, then London, then worldwide to draw attention to the realities of the crisis. “This ever-growing collection of conversations focuses on capturing the diversity of experiences,” Della Torre explains in a statement, “and avoids creating new stereotypes of displaced people as villains, heroic figures or hopeless victims.”
Now, these conversations have hit full-scale billboards for the first time, as part of the Your Space Or Mine Project by the BUILDHOLLYWOOD family of JACK, JACK ARTS and DIABOLICAL. Telling stories about shattered dreams, political injustice, and everyday acts of kindness, the stark black and white texts are displayed in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
“You looked up and said the sky was beautiful today,” reads one of the billboards. “I replied that yes, it was. In that moment, we were just two people looking up at the sky.”
Another display details the story of a person that recently graduated medical school: “You told me that you had graduated medical school two years ago and that you had always wanted to help people in other countries. But you said you never imagined that you would be the person needing help from another country.”
Della Torre adds: “There are so many different stories and some of them describe things like the beauty of a blue sky, the reassurance of a phone call with our mother, or the need for hand cream. I think those are the ones that remind us that we are not as different as we are told.”