A Message from Talawa

We are delighted to share and celebrate the culmination of an incredible journey – the realisation of Our Croydon, a flagship project proudly presented as part of the London Borough of Culture 2023 initiative, aptly named This is Croydon. 

The Our Croydon project, led by Talawa Theatre Company, amplifies and weaves stories of historical, recent and current figures of African and Caribbean heritage who are from or have lived in the borough. Our Croydon took place from 11 November - 14 December 2023 across the borough, comprising talks, workshops, events and exhibitions, celebrating the diversity, resilience, and creativity that define our beloved Croydon and the countless stories it holds.

Our thanks go to our funders the Greater London Authority, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Arts Council England, and Croydon Council, and our partners Museum of Croydon and Stanley Arts for their unwavering support throughout the several years it took to bring this project to fruition.  
Thank you to the creative vision and tireless efforts of the Our Croydon curatorial team Lehni Lamide Davies, Dr Cecilia Wee and Amina Jama –  whose creative vision has shaped this project, showcasing the diverse tapestry of Croydon's culture and heritage.

Thanks also to the Talawa team, especially A'Ishah Waheed and Regina Agard-Brathwaite whose dedication, hard work, and enthusiasm have been the driving force behind the success of Our Croydon. 

The project would simply not exist without the creativity, passion, and trust of our incredible participants from the Association of Jamaicans and the talented artists - Samantha Adams, Jeremiah Brown, Nina Mdwaba and felix taylor who are the heartbeat of Our Croydon. Their stories, voices, and perspectives have enriched our project and our lives, making it a true reflection of the vibrant community that is Croydon.

Michael Buffong, Artistic Director and (Joint) CEO 

Carolyn ML Forsyth, Executive Director and (Joint) CEO 

Our Curatorial Statement

Our Croydon was a festival featuring a series of exhibitions and public programme events exploring experiences and ideas of community archiving and storymaking across generations in Croydon, reflecting on how people make a place. Together, members of the community and commissioned artists have been defining what shared heritage and personal legacy means to them. 

Exhibitions at Stanley Arts, Talawa Theatre and Turf Projects featured a new photography and text installation by actor, poet and artist Jeremiah Brown, a new audio installation by composer and sound designer felix taylor and a film made in collaboration with elders from Croydon’s Caribbean community made by poetic-activist, drama therapist and performer, Nina Mdwaba.  

Workshops, talks and events included a screening of Our Croydon’s Legacy film & conversation with filmmaker Nina Mdwaba, a talk and theatre workshop with Rachael Nanyonjo, Co-Creator/ Director of Recognition, and a listening and scoremaking workshop with Our Croydon commissioned artist felix taylor.

Croydon as a borough is constantly rewriting its history, and Our Croydon has been a collaborative process of artists and participants making individual and collective narratives of Croydon. As curators and producers, recognising the forms of remembrance, archiving and heritage making that are already present and ongoing in Croydon’s African and Caribbean communities was core to our work.

Our Croydon has been about Black joy, holding change within the community and the preciousness of intergenerational knowledge and stories. Whilst it is not overtly political, the complex politics of race, space, the economics of gentrification and class have come up many times on the project. Our Croydon worked with the community to explore and define together what heritage is and how identity is formed in response to heritage and place. 

Incorporating archival practices, film/moving image, photography, sound, text and performance, Our Croydon celebrates the wonder and surprise embedded in the stories of the everyday of living and working in Croydon. 

Lehni Lamide Davies, Co-Curator / Co-Producer 
Dr Cecilia Wee, Co-Curator / Co-Producer 
Amina Jama, Assistant Curator / Producer

Image Credit: Sam Nightingale

Our Croydon was a project led by Talawa Theatre Company in partnership with Museum of Croydon and Stanley Arts, part of London Borough of Culture.

For enquiries, email contact@talawa.com