I went to have a first-hand look at the paint Banksy left in the city.
In late 2015, Calais was pushed into the Street Art headlines when it was discovered that the mysterious street artist Banksy had left a "gift" of three tags on various walls in the town.
In Calais, we had not long before heard about Banksy when he decided to give migrants material reclaimed from his dismantled Dismaland ephemeral attraction park, a spoof of Disneyland-style attraction parks.
This time, he expressed his opinion about the migrant situation in Calais through three interesting and moving images which give rise to reflection and question our own views.
First, a silhouette of a young boy with a telescope appeared on the side of the lifeguard post at the beach. He is looking towards the English coast with an enormous (slightly disproportionate) vulture perched on his telescope, his hair in the wind and a suitcase on the ground beside him. This monochrome vision in black is dark as it concerns the little boy, who we imagine at the end of his journey, stuck on the bank, observing from afar the promise of a future he undoubtedly imagines as better. This impression is heightened by the density of the black facing the vast beach.
The second image, located on a wall on Rue de la Tannerie, just after its junction with Rue du Pont Lottin, is a graffitti-style reproduction of the painter Théodore Géricault's "The Raft of the Medusa". It appears to have been made using stencils that replicate the compositon of the 1819 original, this time in tones of grey and sepia. The artist added a boat which appears to be a cruise ship (there was a helicopter just above it) on the horizon, but this has been scraped away, and the boat has gone. Precisely to avoid this type of damage, the city of Calais has decided to protect these works of "graffitti" with transparent screens.
The £ symbols were not in the original work, and were added later, showing that everyone appropriates the graffitti in their own way!
The third piece of graffitti is a life-size Steve Jobs with a seemingly heavy bundle over his left shoulder and, in his right hand, the first Mac computer, easily recognisable by its compact square shape. It is sure to make you think when you learn that Steve Job's biological father was a Syrian who emmigrated to the US. The larger-than-life work was made in shades of blue using stencils, with a nice shadow play in the folds of his jeans and jumper. This piece marks minds, particularly due to its location at the entrance to the Jungle Camp Lande Camp, and is difficult to get to.
The art works on the beach and Rue de la Tannerie are easy to see, and it is interesting to do so with your own eyes. I was able to find out about Banksy and to discover his works, so thanks to the artist for leaving these visual statements in Calais!