A Photo Series on the Humans of Catford.

Photography by Henry J Kamara.

“It’s no surprise that as a society, generally, we place greater value on more commercial, capitalist examples of success. It’s the latest trainers, cars or life changing experiences that normally acquire the greatest artists and talent, helping to persuade us to invest our energy into these materials. But for a second, think about the power which would be reclaimed if artists had the courage to utilise the power of art, as a medium for acknowledging the unsung heroes of our communities. Well, that would be quite significant indeed.” says British Sierra Leonean artist, Henry J Kamara.

This ongoing photo-series focuses on acknowledging and celebrating the Humans of Catford. Those who have always seen the gem in the area, those who grew up on its streets, those new and those who have become part of the furniture.

By capturing a portrait of each person, we were also able to capture a glimpse of Catford from their perspective. The first being 23-year old stylist and skater, Yves Alawe:

Yves Alawe, 23.

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How long have you lived in Catford?

I’ve been in Catford for about 8 years.

What do you love about it?

Catford is quite a humble area, it’s very calming and no matter where you are you always feel like there is a community. Especially, let’s say when you go to food stores or local businesses, they always make sure to remember your name.

Do you know that Catford is soon to be regenerated?

Yeah.

How do you feel about this?

I don’t really like change, but when it’s done well I appreciate it. If Catford is to change and be regenerated, I would prefer it to beneficial to the community and help out the community more.

If there is anything that you would improve about the area, for the community, what would it be?

Does that include Ladywell Park?

Yes, many people from Catford use it for a range of purposes.

I think we should get a bigger skate park because the little kids, especially during summer. They’re all rollerblading and there are quite a lot of people who skate around Catford and Lewisham. Other than this park, our nearest skate park is really far away.



Lauren Arch, 23.

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How long have you lived in Catford?

6 months.

What do you love about the area?

I like that I’m living a quiet life. I like that I’m cut off from working in central and east London. It’s a nice kind of suburban place to come back to. It feels very homely. 

Have you had any unique experiences whilst living in Catford?

I love the sense of community. There’s a real sense of familiarity here that I haven’t experienced in other places. Things seem more permanent here, whereas in other boroughs I’ve lived in, things seem to be way more temporary and less personal. 

Do you know that Catford is soon to be regenerated?

Yes.

What are your thoughts or feelings on this?

It’s a perfect opportunity for somewhere to try and get it right. If you look at other boroughs, especially in east London. It’s like the councils got excited and allowed a lot of things to happen, allowed a lot of developers to have the control without speaking to the residents and the community to find out what would actually benefit them, what they would like to see in the area and what they wouldn’t like to see in the area. I’m not apprehensive about change. I think change can be a good thing for an area, but it has to be done right. As its starting to happen and we’re starting to see it happening in Catford, I hope that they don’t make the same mistakes as other areas.

If there is anything that you would improve about the area what would it be?

More workspaces for young people. You have to go to a cafe and there isn’t even that many of them for young creatives. Better transport links, especially late at night, you kind of get cut off which is frustrating. Yeah, I think the emphasis is on workspaces and communal areas that people can go to.


Omena, 31.

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How long have you lived in Catford? 

10 years.

What do you love about the area?

I just like that it’s really multi-cultural. Being in an interracial marriage, we feel really at home because there are people of all walks of life around Catford.

Do you know that Catford is soon to be regenerated?

Yes.

How do you feel about this?

I mean, I’m in two minds about it because obviously regeneration means that people see the gem in Catford that I’ve seen for a long time. I remember when I first moved here, a lot of my family were like “This is where you want to live?" I don’t know if I’m going to come and visit you.” I obviously saw the potential and the real community that there can be and has been in Catford. On the flipside, because of the regeneration the things I like about Catford could change. So, as long as there’s a balance between keeping some of the old and inviting some of the new then it’ll be great. 

If there is anything that you would improve about the area what would it be?

I’d make it a bit cleaner. Other than that, nothing.



Dan Barry, 36.

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How long have you lived in Catford?

5 years.

What changes have you seen?

Since I’ve been here those new flats have gone up. I know a lot of people don’t like them but I’ve seen a massive change in the quality of the shops, and the type of stuff on offer.

If you could improve anything about the area, what would it be?

The South Circular, massively, and the lack of cycle and pedestrian friendly infrastructure around Catford. Try and cross the South Circular and it’s a disaster. The road is never clean, you’re constantly worried about punctures. I cycle up there every day. I know its a TFL road but it should be widened.

You were talking about being pro-regeneration, what are the positives for you?

Since I’ve moved here, Catford Bridge Tavern has re-opened, so has the Bottle Bar & Shop and the Ninth Life pub. Generally, it seems there are more things which facilitate people meeting.

If you’d like to have your portrait taken for this series, please follow @CatfordChronicle or @TeamCatford for upcoming dates.

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity, conducted by Charisse Chikwiri.

This is the beginning of an exciting time for Catford Town Centre. The more people involved, the better the needs of the whole community will be reflected. Have your say via Commonplace, and share the project with people you know locally.