Photography by Bernice Mulenga.
The Humans of Catford photo-series is about celebrating the people who make Catford, Catford. In this chapter we meet Tamara Froud and Ciaran O’Fathaigh; one of whom was born and raised in the area, while the other moved to Catford from Brixton. Once you’ve read their stories, you’ll want to click here to catch up on previous entries!
Tamara Froud, 48.
Let’s start with you introducing yourself!
My name is Tamara, I am a mosaic artist and I have been part of the Catford Arts team from the beginning.
Amazing, how long have you lived in Catford?
For 12 years.
What do you like about the area?
I initially moved to Catford because it was a place that I could afford to live - there is more value for money here. I think a lot of other people did that too. As a result, it’s attracted a very honest crowd of people who are gathering and collaborating with the idea of making Catford a better place. I love that sense of collaboration and community. It’s a special place.
Where did you live before moving to Catford?
Brixton. I’m a south London girl.
Why did you choose the Blythe Hill Tavern as the location to have your portrait taken?
One of my mosaics is here. It’s dear to all of our hearts and it was one of my favourites to do last year because it represents the Catford Cat drinking a cheeky pint!
Do you know that Catford is going to be regenerated?
How do you feel about this?
Generally, change is good. It’s going to happen either way and I think we need to embrace it. I like the way that Catford is going about it. There is a lot of energy and a lot of talent here. Catford should be regenerated in a Catford way, not in a generic way. I think Team Catford are doing a great job of that.
If you could improve anything about the area, what would it be?
Put more artwork around!
Ciaran O’Fathaigh, 40.
So Ciaran, you’ve lived in Catford all your life?
Yes, I’m a Catford resident - born and bred. I run a multi-disciplinary a creative practice called Renegade Production.
Why did you choose Milford Towers as your portrait location?
Milford Towers is pretty complex. As a kid, it was a playground. As a teenager, it was a place of excitement but also a lot of real danger. You can disappear in Milford’s and that became important for a number of reasons - sometimes it was about escaping your immediate surroundings, we just wanted to get away from the ground level and it wasn’t because we were running away from anything. You can see the whole of Catford from up there. You don’t know how many kids just need a break from the noise.
Having grown up in Catford, what are your favourite things about the area?
I don’t want to use cliché terms like ‘it’s diverse,’ but there are so many different types of people here. I live next door to somebody who did the editing for Eyes Wide Shut, the Stanley Kubrick film.
Catford is one of the least judgemental areas. When I’ve been in Hackney or Shoreditch, for example, I’ve noticed that people watch each other. You’re judged if you’re not wearing the latest this or the latest that. People in Catford don’t care about that.
How do you feel about Catford being regenerated?
I’ve been chatting to Team Catford about it and I have mixed feelings. We’ve definitely got a chance to do it better than other areas have. Lewisham Council has the opportunity to ensure it’s not done at the expense of the community who have lived here.
Catford hasn’t benefitted from a certain level of facilitation and investment for a while. It would be wrong to finally do that and not serve those who have been waiting for this moment.
For the community, it’s important that we have pride in our area.
It is a give and take, and we will lose some things that we are attached to. Things which carry personal memories. However, some of those memories failed because well, they failed. Some just weren’t sustainable.
Do any unique stories come to mind when you think about growing up in Catford?
I used to work at Catford Dog Track. Lots of people in the ends have, at some point, had a job at the Dog Track. That feels like yesterday. The Boxing Day races always had so much energy – like a championship football game or something.
What would you improve about the area?
It would be nice to get more light into the shopping centre. There doesn’t seem to have been much thought about where the sun was going to shine when it was built. As you walk past the market and in towards Tesco it becomes oppressive.
More natural light would be great, maybe more open spaces as well. I’ve heard talk about getting more outdoor licenses going and having more al fresco things happening, that would be good. And youth centres, please!
Community centres like the Calabash Day Centre are important. In the last ten years, I’ve noticed that more of the older generation just don’t have anywhere to sit and be around their own peers.
The main social spaces here are pubs but I understand that’s not an environment that everybody wants to be in.
Yes, there is also the Irish centre that now shares its space with the African community, that’s quite nice. But we really do need more – particularly for the pre-teen, teenage and the elderly demographics.
If you’d like to have your portrait taken for this series, please follow @CatfordChronicle for upcoming dates.
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
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.
To make general comments on the Town Centre click here.
To comment on the ideas that the architects have begun to develop click here.
Finally, please share the project with people you know locally.