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Curator Questions

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Charlie: Elly, you call yourself a photographer but your practice includes film, sound pieces, drawings etc, why do you still call yourself a photographer foremost?

Elly: I think I don't always call myself a photographer - I often use artist. But in certain contexts I find that 'photographer' is easier for people to understand than 'artist' which can lead to a hundred questions, or none. In terms of a project like this, photographer describes more directly the kind of output I'm generating. It also allows my interaction to be more about them than me.

Charlie: For Camden 50 you’re producing a series of Oral Histories, can you give us an insight into why and what it might look like and how all your parts contribute to the whole?

Elly: Yes! When I was invited to propose something to celebrate 50 years of Camden I thought straight away about people's relationship with place, and how memories from the past infiltrate (and can influence our experience of) the present. The longer you live in a place, or even when you've only been somewhere a bit, memories become attached to specific corners / cafes / parks / bus stops - and no matter what you do, those memories get somehow embedded in the landscape. I'm calling these memories 'Sticky Memories'. And through the gathering of them, (meeting people in the locations of their sticky memories in order to photograph them there, and record them talking about their memory, and to make a video), aim to create an alternative kind of community-described, pinnable-on-a-map, audio-visual portrait of Camden and her people and places, today and over the past 50 years.

Councillor Nasim Ali at Camden Town Hall, Photo by Elly Clarke
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Elly Clarke with Ruth Ingram at her home.

Charlie:You were part inspired by this ‘sticky memories’ concept because you yourself have many in Camden, can you share some with us?

Elly: Funnily enough, alongside the rite-of-passage pilgrimage aged about 14 to Camden to buy a pair of (cherry red) DMs, (to match my boyfriend's) most of my stickiest Camden memories are to do with going to gay clubs for the first time. Popstarz, Club Wotever and various other one night events I went to with friends... As I'm doing this project I encounter versions of myself from these times...

Charlie: That’s your history with Camden, now to the future, what should we be thinking about in the next 50 years?

Elly: I think the key to the next 50 years - for Camden and beyond - is going to be about keeping things local. Strong community links and sustainability in terms of business, the environment and general wellbeing. Getting to know your neighbours and supporting your local shops. Continuing to take an interest in what (and who) is physically there... The more our lives are mediated by machines, the greater our need for face to face conversation and interaction...

Take a look at Elly's Camden Encounters over on her project page HERE.

Share you're photos of Camden by entering our 50Photos competition run in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery. More information HERE.