The Disco Brownie
Walnuts and Honey opened in 2018. The owner, Matthew, had always wanted his own business, watching both of his parents run do so when he was a child.
The shop specialises in cakes: Matthew was inspired by the anime show Yumeiro Patissiere, which follows a young pastry chef. Like in the anime, Matthew loves experimenting with flavour and has come up with many creations in the past.
He looks at flavours which work well together and then modifies them: for example, taking chocolate and orange and replicating another sweet flavour with citrus, such as toffee and yuzu.
However, his experiments don’t always work, with his selfdescribed worst flavour combination being peppermint and liquorice (‘great in tea, but not in cake!’).
Matthew grew up in London and wanted to open a shop based around his roots. When Walnuts and Honey was a mere idea, he had a market stall at the Clocktower Market to gauge demand for his creations. While he was on the market, he would see the store he currently occupies, which was then a former record shop, and just before he was about to sign the lease for another property on the high street, he took on his current premises instead.
The community around South Norwood is Matthew’s favourite thing about the area. He says he has lived in other areas of south London which have ‘no soul’ compared to the ‘indominable spirit’ of South Norwood. From the litter picking society, to the ‘save the library’ group, Matthew says the people are all so friendly and have the community at heart.
Matthew points out that now people can shop on the internet so easily, people aren’t as fussed about products anymore but want experiences. He hopes that there will be an increase in the night time economy, bringing niche and creative ideas to the area. Above all, Matthew wants to see more community spaces created.
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.