The Children of Calais

The Children of Calais, bronze resin, 1.5m x 1.4m x 1.2m, 2018

The Children of Calais (detail)

The Children of Calais is a life-sized sculpture of six children in poses echoing The Burghers of Calais by Auguste Rodin, but dressed in contemporary clothing. One of the figures holds a lifejacket in place of the city key held in Rodin’s original. The piece is designed to provoke debate about the inhumanity of our response to the children caught up in the current refugee crisis.

The Burghers of Calais, one edition of which is permanently situated outside the Houses of Parliament, was commissioned to memorialise a moment during the Hundred Years’ War when Calais had been under siege by the English for over a year. King Edward offered to spare the people of the city on condition that six of its burghers would surrender themselves. Although they expected to be executed, the burghers’ lives were spared by the intervention of the English queen. The Children of Calais evokes a parallel narrative: the sacrifice being demanded of these young people for our ‘greater good’, the numerous public and political voices calling for them to be used for political leverage, and the potential for humanity to yet hold sway.

Unveiled by Lord Dubs on the 8thJune 2018.

Children of Calais Unveiled by Lord Alf Dubs from Ian Wolter Artist on Vimeo.

Selected for the 2019 Florence Biennial.

About Ian Wolter

Ian Wolter is an award winning artist and sculptor. His public works include Safe Haven, the memorial to the Kindertransport, in Harwich and the Children of Calais in Saffron Walden. He’s the recipient of the Arte Laguna Prize (Venice), RomArt Sculpture Prize (Rome) and the Sustainability Art Prize (UK).