Elephant Park moves into the classroom

Abstract flowers, communal seating areas and towering tubes feature in a new series of sculptures designed for Elephant Park by a group of local students.

Arts and culture
  • 26 Feb 2020

The creators behind the collection are working towards an HND qualification in ceramics at Morley College in Elephant & Castle, located just a stone’s throw from the Imperial War Museum. In 2019, they were given an exciting project brief in the form of an imaginary commission from Elephant Park developers Lendlease to create a group of public sculptures to be displayed in the new development.

The result is a series of nine unique sculptures which were all inspired by the Elephant & Castle regeneration.

Student Cathy Green, who hails from Newcastle and studied economics in Leeds before building a career in IT, was intrigued by Elephant Park’s state of the art energy hub, she explains: “The Elephant Park energy hub delivers net zero-carbon, affordable heat and hot water to residents and businesses across Elephant Park with the capacity to connect into a further 1,000 homes around the area. Energy Bundle is a bold, brightly-coloured, huge ceramic sculpture which will attract attention to this cleverly designed building and highlight just what an amazing job it does.”

Glasgow-born Ewan Crallan works as a freelance webcast producer and his sculpture, Blocks for All, demonstrates his interest in public space. He says: “For everyone the need to stop, sit or even play is common. Blocks for All accommodates this through a range of blocks to suit ages three – 93. Community engagement programmes will decide the locations. There are three different sizes to choose from all decorated in colours reflecting the brickwork of the development. The three sizes are small, medium and large. The first being blocks for children, the second is blocks for grown-ups and thirdly a community block for sharing. With Blocks for All the public realm can be better for all.”

Cambridge graduate Sophia Staves challenged herself with scale to create her sculpture, which is a collection of decorative pouffes designed to add the finishing touches to Elephant Park. Sophia, who seeks inspiration for her work from graffiti art, says:

“The pouffes are conceptualised to add a feel of homeliness and comfort to the shared spaces of Elephant Park and entice people to pause and relax in those areas. The theme of my project is the humanisation of redeveloped public space.”

The group of nine students, aged 19 – 60, had three months to complete the project before they submitted their proposals to tutor and experienced ceramicist Elena Gileva. The students had to create a scale model of their proposed sculpture which illustrated the changing nature of Elephant & Castle, while also recognising the strong history and heritage it has. They had to carry out the brief as though they were pitching it to Lendlease and create a digital collage of how their sculpture would look in its intended setting.

Speaking about the sculptures, Elena, says: “It felt really obvious to respond to the changes happening in the area and incorporate them into the course. The students have seen the transformation in Elephant & Castle as they are travelling to and from the college and it’s an important area to all of them.

“I was very impressed with the students’ ambitious work and the amount of time and engagement they have put into executing the project has been very special to see.”

The sculptures are currently on display at Morley College. You can find out more about the school here.