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Crocus Valley is a love letter to Croydon, my home.

It’s a purposefully unexpected glimpse and romantic view of this cultural and generational patchwork quilt of a place that’s supposedly empty of such romance. Scenes that are rarely, if ever, depicted in the media or spoken about.

Being on this particular edge of the UK’s capital has its advantages, whether it’s hopping on the tram into Croydon’s much wilder lands – which sees big pink skies, lush rolling hills, and grazing cattle – or tracing the ancient rural remains of this strange town-city hybrid, evidence of which still remains throughout the borough; look to the names for a hint: Norwood, Selhurst ("dwelling in a wood"), Thornton Heath, Broad Green, Waddon (“the hill where woad grows”) and Croydon itself – the name is thought to mean “crocus valley”, referring to a possible history of cultivation of the Saffron flower.

The abundant nature and the not-so-hidden beauty doesn’t mean the very serious issues the borough faces don’t exist; however, like they do in all London boroughs, these extremes exist side-by-side. This is simply another side to Croydon’s truth.

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Crocus Valley published by RRB Photobooks features poetry by Croydon poet laureate Shaniqua Benjamin and cover artwork by local arist Bev Jones.

The book was launched August 2023 with two outdoor exhibitions and a mini series of events as part of Croydon’s London Borough of Culture programme.