Well, what can we say? 2020 has been quite a year. And hopefully there won’t be another like it. Despite all the challenges a global pandemic brings we’ve seen the resilience of our community – Croydon folk pulling together and adapting in the face of adversity. We look back at just some of the creativity and culture we’ve featured from this first year of the twenties – here are ten of our top picks, roughly in chronological order.
Back in February before the world turned upside down, we very much enjoyed looking at the selection of creative entries to the competition that reimagines the use of our largely redundant 60s subways. From climbing walls, underground markets and restaurants to a subterranean mushroom farm and light installations, we really hope this project is implemented in post Covid times.
In March, not long before lockdown 1, we had a chat with Lee Townsend – one of the founders of Croydon’s photography forum, Lenses of Croydon. We’d attended one of their inspiring photographer’s talks at the beginning of the year and wanted to find out more. Lenses of Croydon have continued to run events online all through the year, giving everyone a much needed creative outlet, as well as raising money for charity at the same time.
In May, we published a photo essay by writer Elizabeth Sheppard who had been using her phone camera to document Croydon’s altered urban landscape – finding the beauty of our empty streets during the country’s first lockdown.
Also in May we reviewed a film by Teatro Vivo, one of the theatre companies who were to perform at the Croydonites festival. They adapted their performance to become a film for us all to enjoy for free online, where they collected everyday stories via Zoom of peoples’ lives under lockdown.
In July we were joined by guest writer Grace Healy – a Peckham-based piano teacher, keys in Croydon band Bugeye, and campaigner for the inclusion of black composers on the ABRSM syllabus, who shared the history of Croydon-raised black composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.
Also in July Croydon-based artist Tina Crawford joined us as a guest writer to talk about her rather extraordinary art piece she created during lockdown. ‘Connected by a Thread’ embodied the four months of pandemic isolation from 23 March to 4 July and includes over 100 stories.
In August we caught up with Croydon-based photographer Christopher Hope-Fitch about his personal project ‘Brutalism in Colour’ where he brings a more colourful approach to the usually grey brutalist architecture style. Make sure you follow Christopher’s Instagram account as it will add some cheer to a cold, rainy tier 4 day.
Also in August we chatted to artist Mark Goldby who curated online Museum of Croydon exhibition ‘Queer + Croydon’ over the summer, which celebrated our borough’s LGBT+ community. This was a very welcome addition to Croydon’s cultural calendar, as of course Croydon Pridefest could not take place this year.
At the start of 2020 the sad announcement was shared that Croydon’s beloved arts hub, Matthews Yard would be closing. Fast forward a few months and despite all the difficulties a pandemic brings to an independent business Matthews Yard opened its door in a lovely new venue in West Croydon. In October we headed there to check out their new home and it didn’t disappoint. We wish them and all other local businesses the best of luck moving into 2021.
At the end of September a new initiative popped up on Instagram bursting with creative content, called Croydon Shared. Set up by two Croydon creatives – artist PiNS and designer Samantha Warren (aka co-founder of Scene In Croydon) – it’s raison d’être is to capture life in Croydon post 23rd March in the form of a community gallery. As we all are in the middle of more lockdown life, get your creative minds in gear and submit away over the festive season. Any Croydon resident can submit work for the archive – it just needs to fit into a square format (and obviously no explicit or hateful content is accepted).
So there’s ten of twenty. All that remains is to thank our readers, contributors and collaborators this year, and to wish everyone a restful festive season.
Posted by Julia. See original articles for full photo credits.