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Final Reflections: Elly Clarke

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Charlie: What have you learnt about Camden / your project topics during this Camden50 year?

Elly Clarke: I think a strong theme that has come about through Camden Encounters is how aware people are of their environment and of changes in shop usage for example, and what a big impact changes in shop use has upon the way people live and move in urban space. A greengrocers or butchers becoming an internet cafe or mobile phone shop was a re-occurring theme, which Kaajel actually just put together in a blogpost. People young and old talked about it. It made me think also that had this project happened 50 years ago, I'd have had stories about blacksmiths. A city is defined in a large way by its shops, which are created by and for and sustain and attract the communities that live there.

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Charlie: What do you think Camden will look like in 50 years’ time?

Elly Clarke: I would hope that there will be far fewer cars and more green/ pedestrian spaces that are not just about shopping... I think in 50 years time many more people will work not from any set place - offices will be an exception rather than a rule. So people's living and working lives will be even more entwined. Therefore more cafes and shared work spaces will be part of the landscape of the city.

Of course massive parts of the city also won't look much different as well!

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Charlie: What has been your favourite part of Camden50?

Elly Clarke: It's been a great excuse to have a load of conversations with a load of strangers. By asking a few simple questions about a single memory that is attached to a single place, a great deal of other information follows. As I wrote a blog piece I put together in the summer, It's also been pretty much the rule that we meet as strangers and part on much more familiar terms.

Sharing the encounters through social media has then also attracted other stories alongside those told. It's a reminder that every person on the tube, every person you pass on the street, every person in front of you in the queue for the checkout has so many stories. When living in such a big city, I think it's easy to forget this. But remembering it means you are open to catching a glimpse of what is there, - even if only through a shared glance or smile. Connection with other people is crucial for the wellbeing of a city. As someone really interested in how technology is affecting the ways we communicate, the physical standing-in-a-shared-space together and dealing with the early hour, or the bad weather, or the wind across my iPhone microphone, has all been part of it.

I think it's also going to be interesting how the project will look in say, 10 years time. Especially the videos: https://vimeo.com/camdenencounters

As Charlie Levine put it early on, in a way my project has been a Screengrab of little bits of Camden today and as remembered by people who've lived there over the past 50 years.

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Find out more about artist Elly Clarke on her website, Facebook and Twitter pages.