Park Bench
PARK BENCH is a photography project created by the artist Kamala Katbamna. The work investigates the connections between people, and between people and places, in an area undergoing rapid regeneration.

PARK BENCH opened in September 2011 at pop-up gallery Unit 237 - 238, on the 1st floor of the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre. The exhibition featured postcards, moveable maps, a collaboration with writer Sebastian Groes, and dedicated space for conversation. Also illustrations from artist Rebecca Davies, and performance from musical psycho-geographer, Nigel of Bermondsey.

Based in the Elephant and Castle, PARK BENCH explored how our experience of “place” impacts on the collective and individual imagination of the city through conversational exchange. It also examined the potential to create both new communities, and new concepts of community, through the sharing of ideas and experiences.

A mobile “park bench” was used to engage local people in an exploration of the rapidly shifting environment around them. I am fascinated by the connotations and potential of park benches as objects that engender both reflection on the landscape, and conversation with others.

PARK BENCH utilised and explored these possibilities in the different neighbourhoods of the Elephant and Castle, both investigating local character and creating connections across the area as a whole.

The bench temporarily occupied different locations within the public realm, capitalising on the area’s richly diverse population. Participants were invited to pause, sit, and share a conversation about the emotional and physical landscape around them. We explored their sense of community, of belonging to the place and to each other, and their hopes for the future.

Following our conversation, each participant was asked to choose a view from the bench to be photographed - and for a few words on its significance. These were converted into a set of ‘postcards’ to offer as gifts to participants at the next location – sparking an exchange of stories, ideas and experiences and, potentially, creating fresh notions of “community”. The postcards have also placed online as a lasting document of the project.

Supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Follow the bench on twitter: #eleparkbench.
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