Review: Croydon Peace Festival 2018 – Who Keeps The Peace?

By - Wednesday 27th June, 2018

A new exhibition by local photographer Rob Wilson Jnr, running in the Museum of Croydon until 15th July, asks what does peace look like?

Rob Wilson

Rob Wilson Jnr.
Photo by Lee Townsend, used with permission.

“Insightful.” “Inspiring.” “Power to the people.” “The peace that comes from inside.”

These were some of the comments heard around the entrance space to the Museum of Croydon in the Clocktower earlier this week. The occasion was the soft launch of Croydon photographer Rob Wilson Jnr’s first solo exhibition, Who Keeps The Peace?, hosted as part of the Croydon Peace Festival.

“I did not expect to see this type of thing when I came here”, one of the audience told me. “These images are truly beautiful.”

“This shows”, said another, “that rather than looking to government and world institutions for peace, people should be looking to each other instead”.

“My work is about the joy of depicting people, of getting under their skin”

People have been important in the photography of Rob Wilson for a very long time. “All of my work relates to people and the things that they do”, he explains. “It’s about the joy of talking to people, of depicting them, of getting under their skin a little bit. It’s been great to have the chance in this exhibition to pull back some of the layers.”

Born out of the first ever Peace Festival to be held in Croydon, Rob’s exhibition explores the local community, discovering how people support each other to encourage peace.

“Peace for me can be small things as well as great actions”, says Rob. “Often we think of peace as a grand gesture but it can also be the smallest of deeds. My exhibition looks at some of those people who are making this world a more peaceful place, answering the question, what does peace look like?”

Gill Manly, singer, actor, arts ambassador.
Photo by Rob Wilson Jnr, used with permission.

Organised into four main themes – caring, togetherness, creativity and the future – it features ordinary people doing extraordinary things to improve the lives of others and build a better future. It celebrates the work of Carers Support Centre and Croydon BME Forum, as well as local musicians, artists and residents in Rob’s own unique style.

While asking a photographer to pick their favourite work is like asking a parent to pick their favourite child, I ask him anyway. One of the pieces he is most proud of, he reveals, is the large Croydon collage image, titled ‘What will peace look like in Croydon?’.

‘What will peace look like in Croydon?’
Photo by Rob Wilson Jnr, used with permission.

“This takes some of the essential elements of Croydon, some of Croydon’s key features and brings them together in one place. This reflects how I feel about Croydon – some things that are good and some that are not so good – but it all seems to be working together in a yin and yang way.”

He is also proud to pay tribute to the work of a group such as Croydon BME Forum, the organisation for the borough’s black, minority and ethnic communities. “A lot of the work they do is under-recognised”, he says. “So I’m really pleased to celebrate it.”

Andrew Brown, Head of Croydon BME Forum.
Photo by Rob Wilson Jnr, used with permission.

“There are so many people in Croydon contributing towards peace and not really getting any acknowledgement”, he continues. “And so I thought, wouldn’t it be great to highlight them and celebrate their contribution instead of just talking about the bigwigs. This year we celebrate the end of the First World War, but how often do we celebrate peace?”

Not just a photographer, Rob is also a videographer, digital engineer, musician and marketeer, with fingers, not only in many pies, but stretched over several sets of keyboards. London born and bred, he is one of Croydon’s key movers and shakers, a familiar face – and camera! – at all of the borough’s main events, which he has been documenting for many years. As a musician, he’s toured Europe with MTV, shared a bill with Chaka Khan and played a range of local venues, from the London Astoria to Croydon’s Oval bar and Smoothbean café.

So what’s next for him? “I very much want to continue this story, maybe digging a bit deeper the next time and telling more of the stories that are tied up in this theme.”

The peace that keeps on giving. We’ll keep you posted.

Who Keeps The Peace? runs at the Museum of Croydon, Croydon Clocktower, Katherine St, CR9 1ET until 15th July 2018.

Rob wants to know, what does peace look like to you?
Share your thoughts, projects, photos, hopes and dreams using the hashtag #WhatDoesPeaceLookLikeToYou on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Bernadette Fallon

Bernadette Fallon

Bernadette has been a journalist since the age of 7 when she devised, designed and launched ‘Fallon’s News’ – much to her family’s delight. Brought up in Ireland, she was born in Addiscombe where she now lives, though it took her several decades to find it again. She works as a journalist and broadcaster. Follow her at

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  • Andrew Dickinson

    Well done Rob Wilson on the exhibition and all your other photographic records of Croydons amazing cultural scene. I’m always relieved when Rob turns up at an event as I then know that some great pictures will be taken. Keep up the good work and love and peace to the man behind the lens. Thanks for the article Berni.

  • Charles Barber

    Really looking forward to coming to see this, and glad that the Peace Festival is continuing in such a visually celebritive fashion.

  • Anne Giles

    Fantastic photographer!