Leon Aart – London to Calais

Leon Aart is a man to admire. Having succeeded on being a world renowned chef he’s created and run very successful restaurants and is now involved with charity work and ‘life coaching’. He is by his own admission best at starting something (business) and as we were driving down to Calais to witness the kitchen he had opened for the refugees a while back he told me of his other new venture, the hash tag #Istand. We had just met at Spitalfields wholesale vegetable market in London. 4 am start and we loaded up a van full of fresh fruit and veg. We headed down to the Eurostar, to then drive on to “the Jungle”, refugee camp in Calais, to deliver the fruit and veg to the kitchen that prepares free food and shelter for the refugees. We headed down with the uncertainty of what would happen to the camp. Threats of bulldozing the camp and getting rid of the refugees had already been made and were just waiting for a legal go-ahead.
I was there to photograph Leon. I did of course have to put things in context so I needed “The Jungle” as backdrop. It struck me as we walked through the camp that apart from very poor living conditions, dead rats in puddles, the cold and damp the place was infested with journalists and camera men. It was almost as if it was a red carpet event. The refugees were constantly watching where to walk not to be filmed whilst the press were hovering around the camp like vultures around a dog lost in a desert. I had a moment of realisation, I felt that I was now one more photographer who had arrived there for my own gains. Although this was true to a degree, I had to reassure myself that I was there mainly to show the good work of someone who has dedicated his adult life to helping. And creating more press for someone who is out to help could in the end only be a good thing. Right? Right? Right!

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Leon Aart with Migrants and Voluneers at the Ashram Kitchen, Calais

Leon Aart with Migrants and Voluneers at the Ashram Kitchen, Calais

Volunteers at the Migrant Camp, Calais.

Volunteers at the Migrant Camp, Calais.

Leon Aart at the Spitalfields Vegetable Market, Stratford, London.

Leon Aart at the Spitalfields Vegetable Market, Stratford, London.

Leon Aart en route to Calais from London

Leon Aart en route to Calais from London

Leon Aart en route to Calais from London

Leon Aart en route to Calais from London

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Leon Aart en route to the outskirts of the Calais Migrant Camp.

Leon Aart en route to the outskirts of the Calais Migrant Camp.

Borders of the Migrant Camp, Calais

Borders of the Migrant Camp, Calais

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Migrant Camp, Calais

Migrant Camp, Calais

Migrant Camp, Calais.

Migrant Camp, Calais.

A voluneer at the Ashram Kitchen, Calais

A voluneer at the Ashram Kitchen, Calais

Leon Aart with Migrants and Voluneers at the Ashram Kitchen, Calais

Leon Aart with Migrants and Voluneers at the Ashram Kitchen, Calais

French replacement housing, Migrant Camp, Calais.

French replacement housing, Migrant Camp, Calais.

Migrant Camp, Calais

Migrant Camp, Calais

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