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Elephant memory

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This article is a non-chronological account of the documentation and mapping of walks over an eighteen-month period around Elephant and Castle, a part of South East London that, via its designation as a prime ‘regeneration opportunity area’, is experiencing a rapid but problematic transformation. The original group walk is constructed performatively in the shape of a spatial and temporal narrative, i.e. the solving of a mystery prompted by an American magazine’s 1941 photograph of bomb-damaged Sayer Street SE17, held in the Imperial War Museum archive. Via this and other textual fragments, walkers seek to reconstruct a history and determine the original coordinates of a once lost but now recuperated street. Subsequent walks, taking place either side of the recent conflagration of Grenfell Tower, become more dialogic as discussion turns to the social and political consequences of London’s land grab. Key motifs emerge also: parallel lines of thinking, e.g. Lend Lease 1941, Lend Lease Ltd 2017, mapping – personal and archival, quotation, ruins, the punctum in the image and the metaphor of place holding.
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Keywords: archives; fragments; memory; place-holding; ruins

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Royal College of Art

Publication date: May 1, 2018

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  • The Journal of Writing in Creative Practice is the official organ of the Writing Purposefully in Art and Design (Writing PAD) network. It offers art and design institutions an arena in which to explore and develop the notion of thinking through writing as a parallel to visual discourse in art and design practice. The journal aims to extend the debates to all national and international higher educational art and design institutions.
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