Our project has been a documentation of the final stages of Elephant and Castle Shopping centre in South London. The centre has been condemned to yet another inner-city regeneration project that, instead of improving the lives of those who already inhabit the area, removes and replaces the communities hub with more affluent clients and less affordable housing. Despite working in tangent with the campaign ‘Up the Elephant’ that is fighting against the redevelopment, we aimed our focus away from the political narrative. We decided to develop our work as a celebration of all the people that frequent the Elephant by giving the perspective of one regular and one independent business that we believed represent the wider community.
We chose the topic of Elephant and Castle shopping centre because we saw it as an opportunity to capture one of the city’s various regeneration projects in the twilight of its life. The almost imminent destruction causes reflection of the Elephant’s past times. It aligns the glory days of a first-of-its-kind shopping centre with the present pending process of redevelopment predicting a forlorn future for the surrounding community.
Furthermore, the multicultural foundations of the Elephant’s community worked well with the collaborative nature of the project. One photographer’s higher studies of photography gave structure and understanding to its process and the other’s fluency in Spanish language gave much-facilitated access into the Latin community. The project has spanned over the last 3 months, during which we visited a number of shops, cafes and restaurants. Our weekly visits not only acquainted us with the people who use the centre on a daily basis but also helped us gage their perspective and appreciate how significant the centre is to so many people.