Now we do like a zine at the Croydonist. An independent publication is always a labour of love, and when we saw ‘A Love Letter to Croydon’ by Waddon-based photographer Ameena Rojee we knew we had to explore it more. Recently published by Another Place Press – a publisher showcasing contemporary photography exploring our relationship with ‘place’, the zine was curated by Ameena to showcase a series of her photographs of Croydon to illustrate the beauty of our borough to outsiders – as Ameena elaborates in the blurb, ‘its green and natural spaces, its melting pot of people and culture, and the wonderful every-day moments… an unseen side to Croydon; a beautiful, delicate, poetic side.’
I was intrigued to get my hands on a copy of ‘A Love Letter to Croydon’. Ameena’s photos have an ethereal quality about them and the light captured across the series definitely contributes to a calming reflective feeling that washed over me whilst I was looking at the series. Ameena’s decision to have no words throughout the main body of the publication amplifies this calmness further. I initially wondered if the pictures had been taken in lockdown, as the pace of the zine made me slow down my thoughts – very much how a lot of us were feeling in early lockdown when we were focusing on the ordinary of the everyday. But of course the people pictured are maskless, and when I asked Ameena about the timescale, the photos she selected range from 2017 onwards.
Although there are people in the series, most of the photos are of nature, buildings or roads. Inanimate objects take on their own personalities, and some of the images feel very playful – a car covered in green paint, or a truck (cheekily) disappearing around a bend in a road. I particularly love the symmetry of the images chosen to sit together below.
I asked Ameena if she was working to a theme when selecting the images for the zine:
‘It was an interesting process; I didn’t have a theme in mind exactly, more of a feeling. The photographs were selected from an existing archive, something I’ve not done before, so I initially chose them based on the way I felt when I looked at them. The theme came after, and it was quite a romantic and poetic narrative in the end which I loved because “romantic” and “poetic” are never ever used to describe Croydon, and yet the photographs show exactly that whether it’s the amazing green spaces we have or the brilliant moments you can come across in the town centre’.
I’ve lived in Croydon all my life, and I thought I would recognise every inch of the borough (ok, not quite, but you know what I mean). However my favourite image in the zine – a power station highlighted by heathland and a dawn/dusk sky – is a complete mystery to me. I caved and asked Ameena. The photo (shown below left) was taken from across the boundary along Beddington Park, looking to the Viridor Power Plant that deals with the surrounding boroughs’ non-recyclable waste. Perhaps a bit industrial for some tastes, but for me the image sums up the half/half aspect of our borough. Manmade and nature living side by side – which is what I particularly love about Croydon.
All images courtesy of Ameena Rojee
Posted by Julia