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Joy and Dave, Blue Jay Café (South Drawood exhibition)

  • Year Invented: 2018

Winner of the Pride of Croydon Award 2022 and known for being a favourite of music artist Stormzy, the Blue Jay Café originally started as a five year plan for Joy and Dave but the business is still thriving 14 years later. They have watched their community live and grow with Joy saying they are all a big family. Joy previously worked in schools and as a counsellor, and her caring nature continues within the Café. A lot of the locals have worked for her in their teenage years as well as a lot of their own family serving customers and making the food. 

Joy and Dave like to support local projects and will take part in anything which comes their way. They also note the special relationship business owners have with one another in the area. However, when the pair were looking to open the café they started their search around Crystal Palace but then fell in love with South Norwood and haven’t looked back. 

Joy and Dave have seen South Norwood develop and change over the years Blue Jay has been open. Joy says that she would like to see more activities in the area for young people. She takes great joy in employing young locals as ‘they are the future’, and she would like to see more services to support and encourage the young people of South Norwood to achieve great things.

 Words by Elizabeth Walters

Interview with Joy, Co-owner of Blue Jay Café, April 2022

Blue Jay Café

2 Market Parade Portland Road, London, SE25 4PP


This project was part of the South Drawood exhibition in 2022 by artist Jonny Kemp. A community art project celebrating the people of South Norwood, SE25.

From autumn of 2021 to summer 2022, Jonny drew 40 portraits of independent business owners, volunteers, and other movers and shakers from South Norwood, his local area. His partner Lizzie interviewed them.

South Norwood is regenerating yet doesn’t want to gentrify: it wants to keep its character and support people who already live in the area to prosper. This was Jonny and Lizzie’s way of ‘giving South Norwood a hug’: by representing the diverse people of SE25 through portraits in fine liner pen, and their own stories.

The portraits were displayed in Stanley Arts, a beautiful Edwardian arts venue on South Norwood Hill. Over 150 people attended the opening night: Friday 29th July 2022.

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