Portrait of a Brutalist Library

17th - 27th Oct 2023 - South Norwood Library

Photo of South Norwood Library

Part of Desire Paths

Libraries, being containers of stories and local memory, encompass the very essence of modern collective folklore. South Norwood is home to one of Croydon’s most characterful Libraries. Built in 1968 by Croydon architect Hugh Lea, South Norwood Library is a perfect example of Brutalist architecture – a movement which embodied a socialist view of our cities, striving to create egalitarian buildings that served their residents as simple, honest and functional spaces.

In recent years South Norwood’s Brutalist library has reached a crossroads in its history, narrowly avoiding a relocation project that would have seen the building abandoned as a Library after over 50 years of use. It was through the support of local residents and community groups that the building was saved. This show of solidarity is a perfect example of the power between community and place and how that connection cannot be underestimated. When it comes to the history of how we think about public space, unique, egalitarian buildings such as South Norwood Library are the kind of places we must celebrate.

PORTRAIT OF A BRUTALIST LIBRARY brings together residents from the South Norwood Community to celebrate their local Library through drawing it. The result will be a collection of personal viewpoints of this historic building that consider the Library’s past, present, and future. It is our hope that the project will keep the library at the forefront of people’s minds as we consider what new and creative ways this building can continue to serve the people of South Norwood in the coming years.

Portrait of a Brutalist Library – Drawing Workshops

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About the Artist

Hoagy Houghton is a visual artist and resident of South Norwood. He is interested in how bad luck, misfortune and tragedy can be turned on their head through the creation of art. Be it through processes of mark making, visual story telling or community projects, he hopes to promote creation as a transformative act that can begin positive change. The project will be assisted by Jonny Kemp. A fellow South Norwood resident, Jonny is a portrait artist interested in portraying people and the spaces they inhabit. His work celebrates communities, depicting those who might not normally see themselves represented in art.

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