I took part in Kamala Katbamna’s Park Bench project yesterday afternoon. Kamala has commissioned a beautiful bicycle/bench and has been inviting people to join her for a conversation about the Elephant and Castle.
I always find it interesting how conversation, and being asked unexpected questions, helps me to articulate and realise things I’ve never quite formulated before. When Kamala asked me to describe my journeys through the Elephant, I realised that I was happy describing journeys to the Elephant, but I struggled with the idea of going through it – getting lost in the Shopping Centre, trying to avoid the roundabouts, plunging down into the subways and always ending up in the wrong place. We discussed how the Elephant feels like an atomised place, with lots of distinct (though frequently hidden from view) places to visit, but little sense of physical connection. I found this interesting in the light of Home From Home – a book of portraits and stories from Elephant and Castle which I created with Eva Sajovic – which revealed to me just how many complex connections there are between individuals and communities in this area.
Kamala has created a series of postcards – asking bench conversationalists to choose a view from the bench that epitomises the Elephant to them. I chose an image of the word ‘HERE’, graffitied onto the top of the boarded-up Heygate Estate.
Visit the Park Bench flickr site for images from the project, and look our for Kamala’s exhibition of the project, which starts in early September in Elephant and Castle shopping centre.