How traditional apple-pressing led to a new piece of street art for West Croydon

By - Monday 4th December, 2017

Taking a bite out of Croydon’s street-art scene

Photo public domain.

This is a lovely community story, which brings together art, heritage and apple-pressing, and shows how they can work together to make Croydon a more beautiful place.

So there you are doing Croydon community stuff, sharing skills, knowledge, heritage, health, preventing waste, promoting community cohesion and being out in the fresh air enjoying a freshly pressed cup of apple juice… and someone thinks it would make a piece of art. Pardon me?

But that’s what happened. I’d been pressing apples with with my beautiful 20-litre Vigo fruit press, and the graphic-design artist collective Abäke – in particular, artist Patrick Lacey – heard about what I’d been doing. They had been commissioned by Croydon Council, the GLA and East Architecture, after the discovery of a flank wall in Station Road after the West Croydon masterplan works. It was felt that the wall might provide a great location for some more of the street art for which our town centre is increasingly celebrated.

Vitreous enamel plaques were discovered in the roof space of a former photographer’s studio

But what art should be put in the new location?

During demolition works of part of Station Road, 15 vitreous enamel plaques were discovered in a roof space of a former photographer’s studio, which in its day had used them as props. Now, in 2017, these historic plaques acted as inspiration for the Abäke collective.

Patrick and I met for a chat. He explained the project and said that he was looking for community-based subjects to feature on the plaques. This was to draw attention to local resources such as walks, talks, art, collections, history and the future. I showed him the apple press and explained about how we had been doing community pressings. I also supplied some photos of the press in action and left it at that (along the way, Patrick also joined a bat walk in Wandle Park one Friday evening, where we were treated to several aerobatic displays from late-in-the-season, insect-feeding bats – so I think he gained a real sense of the variety of Croydon’s community activity).

“What happened to the art project?” I asked

Fast forward several months, and there I was at the opening night of the Art Store unit in the Whitgift Centre with TURF Projects, ArtHalo and the Croydon Biennale team. A tap on my shoulder and there was Patrick. “What happened to the art project?” I asked and was told that it was up on the flank wall in Station Road. So now to get along to see what it was all about.

When time permitted, I wandered down to Station Road and was amazed and delighted by what I saw. Take a look at the image below!

Don’t let this article save you the journey, but when you can, get along and take a look at at this little-known piece of work. It’s away from the main artwork that we are more familiar with, but it is making its own corner of Croydon more beautiful.

Image by Abäke, used with permission.



Andrew Dickinson

Andrew Dickinson

I'm a long term resident of Croydon and I'm lucky to live and work in the borough. As a schoolboy my proudest moments were playing representative football for Croydon where I would fight tooth and nail to win for the borough and contribute towards its sporting reputation. For 18 years I worked up in London and became distanced from the town. Now I've re-engaged with the place over the last 20 years and feel frustrated in finding a way to vent my passion for Croydon (as I'm too old to play football) so I'm always on the lookout for any new initiatives to bring positivity to the place. I live on Bramley Hill with my lovely family and I have an allotment locally. I'm a keen amateur in gardening, environmentalism, permaculture, photography and website design. I'm an oyster mushroom farmer, run a social enterprise called Green Croydon, I'm part of the Croydon Fairtrade steering group, part of the Croydon ReUse Organisation, current chair of Croydon Transition Town and a community gardener; I'm on the borough Food Programme, Parks and Social Enterprise steering groups and a community apple presser. I currently work for the council as an officer creating and promoting community events in the beautiful Wandle Park. I put on the Croydon Environmental Fair each year and the Summer of Love theme and festival was something I dreamed up. I inspired the 'I would make Croydon better by' theme. There's also the Give and Take events in Surrey Street. I started the monthly Arts, Crafts and Vintage market in Exchange Square. Formerly I was a Turf Projects trustee, a Croydon Radio presenter and part of the Old Town business association.Between all this, I write the occasional article for the Citizen. I support local artists and local musicians by enabling the space for them to create I also support local independent journalism.

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