Blackfriars Estate residents enjoyed an afternoon of food, music, friendship and fun, at a garden party featuring a life-sized mechanical elephant.

The Southwark estate was one of four stops on a carnival parade created and produced by pioneering outdoor arts company Emergency Exit Arts, for Blackfriars Stories, an events programme commissioned by Southwark Council.  

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The elephant spent an hour exploring Blackfriars Estate

Hundreds of local residents cheered on the elephant as it wandered through their neighbourhoods, before being welcomed at our Blackfriars Estate by street entertainers and live music with games, gardening, arts and crafts, strawberries and ice cream.

"The aim of this event was to showcase the hidden treasures of Blackfriars Road, by bringing together the local community to celebrate its culture, heritage and history," says Deb Mullins, Artistic Director at Emergency Exit Arts. 

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There were free arts and crafts workshops for local residents

"Blackfriars Estate is a very special place with a real sense of community, and we are grateful for the contribution of the residents, local businesses and community groups, in helping to make this event a resounding success."

Nadia, a Blackfriars estate resident, says: "The fun and colourful mechanical elephant was a sight to behold! The kids and I really enjoyed taking part in the parade, and it’s fantastic to see so many local people coming together to celebrate our neighbourhood."

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The day featured live music from South London Samba

Blackfriars Estate poem

Written by Arjunan Manuelpillai, Emergency Exit Arts resident poet and workshop leader:

I stumbled upon this precious place just two tiny days ago
And pinched myself below the arch as I walked into your little home
The bricks the mortar, the playground, the court
It was special in so many ways
And you have the windows I really love
Without those plastic frames

And then I walked to the vegetable patch
And picked apart some leaves
Marvelled at your vegetable patch
Before I had to leave.
And then I spoke to Carole outside
We spoke upon the street
Asked her advice on how to write a poem you'd think was sweet

She said:

This is more than just a place
More than just a home
More than just a time machine to all the days of old  
This is more than a couple bricks
More than just a group
This is a community. Together we push on through

This is a place where culture sits, samosas do the rounds
Injera and food with difficult names
Names I cannot pronounce 

A place where the sun will fill this square
And children can still play free
This is more than just home
This place is part of me.

And I know what you're thinking, you like her vegetable patch
But you didn't know Carole could write a poem like that
And maybe I embellished it, but the last line is hers alone
It will not change, we will not let it. For we're happy with our home.