The Cube: A Project during the UAL Short Course in Photojournalism

March 05, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

As part of my Developing Your Creative Practice (DYCP) award from Arts Council England, I took a short course in Photojournalism at University of the Arts, London (UAL). This is the project I developed during that 3 day course.

 

Looking down from the LCC Tower in Elephant and Castle I was intrigued by the metal box in the middle of the roundabout. It seemed quite a small thing to have held its ground when all around it everything is being replaced by much taller contemporary buildings, but I didn't give it much more thought.

Photograph looking down at a roundabout with a large metal building on it (bottom right of frame), and small bits of grass. Around it are roads with traffic on, there's a building site to the right, an old tube station to the left and high rise buildings at the top of frame, including the shard to the left.The question

On the train home I was looking for project ideas on Google Maps and I saw the name of the metal box, the Michael Faraday Memorial, which seemed a bit odd. So I looked for more information. I knew the name but I’d forgotten any details from high school physics.

Photograph of a paved floor with 'MICHAEL FARADY' engraved on it. In a puddle to the left is the reflection of a tower block and to the right a person's legs with black trousers and brown shoes can be seen walking past, one blurred as it moves.The answer

He was a fascinating, self-taught man who made hugely significant scientific discoveries including the electric generator and an early version of the bunsen burner; he started the Royal Institution Christmas lectures for young people; he turned down a knighthood and he refused to advise the British Government on the production of chemical weapons for use in the Crimean War, for ethical reasons. 

Photograph of the Michael Faraday Memorial, a large, squat metal building covered in indented squares of metal, with a black metal frame crossing over. In the distance tower blocks are visible and in the foreground is a road with a cyclist blurred as they pass.The Michael Faraday Memorial

The memorial was designed by Rodney Gordon in 1959 and while most people don't think too much about it as they pass by (I hadn't until I was drawn in online) there are many urban legends about what’s inside the box. It made fascinating reading on the train but the most amusing is that it’s the home of Aphex Twin, the electronic musician, a story he appears to have fed to a journalist himself in an interview that later expressly talks about his reputation for telling lies about himself. 

The Michael Faraday MemorialThe Michael Faraday MemorialPhotograph of a large number of birds flying in the sky above the Michael Faraday Memorial, a large, squat metal building covered in indented squares of metal, with a black metal frame crossing over. Some people and parts of cars are just visible in the foreground.

I wanted to see what passersby thought it was and what they thought of it.

Photographic portrait of a person with dark brown hair looking into camera, wearing a thin knitted scarf in shades of orange and brown, a light brown cordoroy jacket with white collar and a dark top. They are framed by the lines of the Faraday Memorial behind.Amy
Photograph of remnants of a poster that has been stuck on a metal surface - the taped edges remain while the centre has been ripped off and there's a cross scratched in the metal. The word 'FREE' is visible at the top.JayneLloyd_240207_Photojournalism_3379

Amy had just had an interview in the area and had no idea what the building was, but she didn’t think it was pretty.

Photograph of a corner of the Michael Faraday Memorial, a large, squat metal building covered in indented squares of metal, catching the sunlight. There's a metal staircase to the right of the frame and a towerblock and red London bus can just be seen behind, to the left of the frame.JayneLloyd_240206_Photojournalism_3303
Photograph of a person standing in sunlight in front of the metal panelled wall of the Faraday Memorial, with benches just visible behind. They are looking to the left of the frame, with their hair in a high ponytail, with a dark tote bag on their shoulder and wearing a black winter coat.Tash

Photograph of a black metal panel to the left with a stick showing a warning triangle with '!' in it, saying 'Warning, Anti-climb paint' at the top, and a silver metal wall to the left, with indented panels that appear to have remnants of dirty liquid on them.JayneLloyd_240206_Photojournalism_3155
Tash had no idea but thought it could be some kind of giant speaker or something solar powered, or it could be an art installation.

Photograph of two people wearing flat caps, glasses, dark coloured jackets and trousers standing in front of a short staircase leading to a metal door that has colourful warning stickers on it, on a wall made of indented metal panels.Tom and Taber
Photograph of a corner of the Michael Faraday Memorial, a large, squat metal building covered in indented squares of metal, with streaks of liquid on them. Two the right is a cycle path and in the distance people cross a road in front of a building site.JayneLloyd_240206_Photojournalism_3147

Tom and Taber were reading the information board so they knew what it was but thought it seemed a sad place for a memorial. When they were living here in 2014/15 they’d heard there was talk of rejuvination but all it seemed to be was high rise apartment blocks, not concentrating on adding green space. They felt a little pressure wash would go a long way.

Photographic portrait of a person in high vis jacket and work trousers pushing a cart with a bin and cleaning equipement on it. Behind is a corner of the Michael Faraday Memorial, a large, squat metal building covered in indented squares of metal, with bikes parked in front and a towerblock in the distance to the right.Mark
Photograph of a section of the Michael Faraday Memorial, a large, squat metal building covered in indented squares of metal, with pigeons on the floor and blurred flying in front. There is a small staircase to the left and at the top right a towerblock with colourful squares on it can be seen behind.JayneLloyd_240207_Photojournalism_3551

Mark works here and he isn’t 100% sure but he thinks it might be an air conditioning unit for the London Underground, pumping fresh air through it. He said it’d been there since he was a kid and he’s 50 now.

Photographic portrait of an older person with short white hair, wearing black-rimmed glass and a dark blue jacket and jumper, with a grey background behind.Vincent
Photograph of a corner of the Michael Faraday Memorial, a large, squat metal building covered in indented squares of metal, with benches and a bin in front, plant pots just visible in the bottom right of the frame and an old tube station with a planted wall and people crossing the road to the right.JayneLloyd_240206_Photojournalism_3128 Vincent came here from Ireland in 1956 and he’s 84 now, though he moved back to Ireland a while ago and was back to stay with his sons. He told me that the only part of Elephant and Castle that has stayed the same is the Tabernacle and the Bakerloo Line Station, all the rest is new. He told me the building is a ventilation shaft for the Underground.

Photograph of part of a metal door in a metal wall, with a sticker saying 'Zeus strikes' with a symbol of a zigzag arrow pointing to a fallen person (resembling an electrical 'danger of death' sign) and a colourful sign to the right with symbols and text saying 'Location, Elephant & Castle Substation', No entry unless authorised, Danger of death, In emergency telephone...'JayneLloyd_240206_Photojournalism_3264

The truth is, as well as a memorial, it’s an electrical substation. In many ways a fitting tribute.

Photograph of the Michael Faraday Memorial, a large, squat metal building covered in indented squares of metal, with a black metal frame crossing over. In the distance tower blocks are visible and in front is a group of people with their arms raised in the air. There's a tree to the right, parked bikes and an old, pillared building to the left and a blurred person walking past in the foreground.JayneLloyd_240207_Photojournalism_3422

 

Produced during a short course in photojournalism at UAL as part of a Developing Your Creative Practice Award supported using public funding by Arts Council England. Find out more about Arts Council England at https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/

Logo showing (in a circle to the left) 'ARTS COUNCIL ENGLAND', a vertical line and 'Supported using public funding by ARTS COUNCIL ENGLAND'ACE logo


Hi, I'm Jayne Lloyd, a photographer based in Essex and working across London, the South East of the UK and beyond. I love using photography to give insight into people, places and processes and I offer a range of services including documentary/reportage, editorial, interior and portrait photography.

If you would like to speak to me about working together please don't hesitate to get in touch.

 


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