Will Montgomery’s ‘sounds of the elephant

Photograph: Dollan Cannell.

Will Montgomery is a sound artist who has posted some sound recordings made inside and outside the Elephant and Castle Shopping Mall. In an article for the August, 2007 issue of Painted, Spoken, he writes:

“I’ve never lived on the Heygate and I’m glad of that. However . . . one night I was knocked over on the Elephant’s north roundabout. The impact destroyed the joint at the base of my left thumb, and the Elephant, like the fused thumb, has nagged at me ever since. . . .”

Then, explaining his interest in the shopping centre (from the same interview):

“What interests me now is it’s sound. In the late 199o’s, I began to admire it’s peculiarly roomy, dreamy acoustic . . .in the shopping centre you get, of course, voices speaking many languages . . . But more important to me is the combination of overlapping human voices with piped pop songs. Often you catch some ancient love tune . . . floating by. Perhaps some of the more worn-down uses of the shopping center went for those songs once. For me, the romantic love hymned decades ago by these tarnished old hits tallies with the pathos that now marks the hopes of betterment expressed in the architecture of the area.”

Further, he quotes Charles Dickens, and Walter Benjamin, writing about the Elephant, and mixes sound recordings of the shopping centre with pop-up photographs of the centre and the Heygate Estate. A nice testimonial. His site can be found at ‘selvageflame.com’


  1. Hi, thanks for the mention. Drop me a line via my site some time: it’d be good to have a chat about the Heygate. Will.
    PS the photo, like all the Heygate shots on my site, is by Dollan Cannell.

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