With tear gas stinging her eyes and clinging to her clothes photographer Jane Jackson vowed one thing as she boarded the ferry at Calais; she was going to return to The Jungle and she was going to take pictures – lots of them.
Until then Jane had used her camera reservedly, so as not to cause offence to the migrants she was there to help – but getting caught up in a battle with riot police changed her stance.
“It really shocked me when I was tear gassed. I had only gone there for four days to help out. At first I was nervous of openly getting my camera out as I had seen camera crews getting harassed – but that all changed during the battle I witnessed.”
Jane returned to the camp during the early part of last year when the authorities starting bulldozing the south, which was home to 3,000 people including families and unaccompanied children.
She litter-picked, helped out with the women’s pamper days, worked in the warehouse as part of a distribution team recording what she saw on camera.
The result is an amazing archive of poignant pictures revealing the heartbreaking, yet inspiring community the migrants had created from practically nothing, and the devastation wreaked by the demolition and fire which swept through the area in the last few days of the camp.
The 61-year-old photographer, who at the time was studying Fine Art Photography at the University of Derby, used the work for her degree show exhibition.
Her pictures were subsequently chosen to be part of the Graduate Award show for FORMAT17 which will be at the Banks Mill Studio in Bridge Street, Derby, until April 24. For more details go to http://www.formatfestival.com
Jane, who lives in Worksop, said she had always wanted to be creative and had studied on a foundation course when she was 18 but never followed it through to anything else and then life got in the way. Before retiring she spent 20 years working as a management information manager for North Nottinghamshire College.
“When the job started to change I decided I wanted to do something else with my life and decided to go back to studying. I was so impressed with the facilities at Derby that I was determined to get a place on the course and was thrilled when I managed it.
“As part of the course I found myself working with the homeless and failed asylum seekers in Sheffield, and it was then that I became interested in migrants. I had obviously heard all the stuff on the news about Calais and The Jungle and I wanted to know more.
There was no reason why I couldn’t go, so I contacted the charities involved to volunteer and decided I was just going to go for a few days and see what I could find.
“When I first entered the camp I was really surprised that there were shops and restaurants, hairdressers and bakers. It was an amazing place. The other volunteers were a diverse bunch of lovely people – from radical young people to middle-aged do-gooders, which is the bracket I fall into I guess,” she said with a wry smile.
Jane rescued and brought back a few artefacts from the remaining debris at The Jungle and these, together with new work taken in a more recent return trip to the site of the camp, will be on display at the Art House in Friar Gate, Derby, during the FORMAT festival.
For more information go to http://www.janejacksonphotography.com