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World Refugee Day: Huge painting unveiled near Eiffel Tower to support migrant rescuers

"Beyond Walls" by French street artist Saype in Paris, France, June 14, 2019.
"Beyond Walls" by French street artist Saype in Paris, France, June 14, 2019. Copyright REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
Copyright REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
By Alice Tidey
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French street artist Saype hand-sprayed a series of clasped hands across the 15,000 square metres of the Champs de Mars.


A large ephemeral painting depicting clasped hands and sprayed on the park adjoining the world-famous Eiffel Tower in Paris was unveiled on Saturday to mark World Refugee Day (June 20).

The artwork by Saype — real name Guillaume Legros — spans the 15,000 square metres of the Champs de Mars park and was realised with biodegradable paint made with chalk and charcoal.

It is part of a project called "Beyond Walls" and depicts hands interlocking with each other in a tribute to SOS Mediterranée. The NGO rescues people attempting the deadly crossing between Africa and mainland Europe.

REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
French artist Saype in front of his giant artwork "Beyond Walls" in Paris, France, France, June 14, 2019.REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

Francis Vallat, President of SOS Mediterranée France, said in a statement that "this handshake is for us, seafarers, the symbol of the rescue, of course, but also that of the first human contact that the shipwrecked meet after having fled hell in Libya at the risk of their lives, as the Central Mediterranean remains the deadliest migratory route in the world."

Saype, which has in the past realised giant frescoes on mountainsides, started hand-spraying his latest work on June 3.

"In a polarised world, I wanted to create an optimistic and caring message for us all: the biggest human chain ever made," Saype wrote on Facebook.

Paris 2019, beyond walls project by Saype. 15.000m2, biodegradable paint on grass. Very proud and honoured to launch...

Publiée par SAYPE artiste sur Vendredi 14 juin 2019

After Paris, the French nurse-turned-street artist, who made it into Forbes' 30 artists under 30 list last year, will take his project to some 20 cities around the world over the next three years including Geneva, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Christchurch, London, Melbourne, New York and Nairobi.

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