Preview screening of Ritual for Elephant and Castle. Photo by Alison Proctor
Ritual for Elephant and Castle


A Ritual for Elephant and Castle

Fri 16 Oct 2009

Siobhan Davies Studios presented a preview screening of the film and performance at the Coronet Theatre alongside a talk with Michael Smythe (producer for Nomad), Marcus Coates and the writer Will Hodgkinson.

Produced by Nomad, this project was the outcome of a nine month residency by Nomad and Marcus Coates in Elephant and Castle, where they worked with residents, Southwark Council members, developers and the shopping centre management to develop content that informed the Ritual held at the Coronet Theatre in June 2009.

A Ritual for Elephant & Castle is a documentary film which explores the transitions currently taking place in the South London neighbourhood. The documentary follows artist/shaman Marcus Coates as he sets out on a ‘Vision Quest’ in the heart of this South London neighbourhood, to search out animal spirits to help guide the local community through a period of change.

Involving local residents from the iconic Heygate Estate, Southwark councillors and a psychedelic doom rock orchestra called Chrome Hoof, the community and artists embarked on a journey into the depths of the neighbourhood in search of alternative ways to find solutions to a shared problem. The findings from the ‘Vision Quest’ were presented to the community via a rock-disco-shamanic-ritual at the legendary Coronet Theatre.

Artist in Conversation: Film



Nomad was established in 2006 to facilitate new dialogues between artist, collaboration and exhibition in the public domain. Nomad continually strives to build support structures for artists to explore non-traditional working and presentation methods. Our commissioning process is orientated towards increasing knowledge and experience for artists, collaborators and audiences alike.
Nomad is not interested in developing a prolific program but rather prefers to produce work of an exceptional nature at a steady pace. There is no fixed period for a ‘commission’ to be realized, the preference being for artists to establish a long-term relationship with Nomad to develop their work in new ways, parallel to their usual practice.

Nomad’s goal is to draw on regions of cultural production and social discourse that are genuinely interesting and generative, rewiring these connections in ways that are convivial, provocative and accessible.

Marcus Coates

Coates’ practice questions how we perceive humaness through imagined non-human realities. An extensive knowledge and understanding of British Wildlife has led him to create unique interpretations of the natural world and its evolving relationship with society.

An aspect of Coates’ recent work sees him as a ‘useful social agent’ or problem solver. Using his skills and position in society as an artist and his knowledge of British Wildlife he seeks resolutions to social issues for clients. Through self designed rituals informed by traditional cultures he consults a non conscious world of animals and birds to seek relevant information.
(Biography correct, 2011)

Michael Smythe

Michael Smythe is noted for his intimate and personal documentary style, black & white photographs.

Often choosing to exhibit images in large format, within public spaces such as billboards & building facades. These photographic installations frequently link the image making process with the site of display.

Smythe studied photography at Der Hochschule Der Kunst, Berlin and currently lives and works in London.
(Biography correct, 2012)