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Mel, Lakes Café (South Drawood exhibition)

  • Year Invented: 2018

Anyone who strolls down to the South Norwood Lakes should definitely pay the Lakes Café a visit. Mel has been running the Lakes Café for seven years. She originally started in the business making gluten free cakes for the previous owners, but when they wanted to move Mel saw the opportunity to take over. Before this she ran a gluten free cake stall at Crystal Palace market. She was diagnosed with coeliac disease at 13, so gluten free cooking and baking is a part of her daily life. Her cakes are far from the dry and dull bakes people often associate with gluten free baking and she really shows how you don’t have to miss out on flavour or texture so they’re definitely not to be missed.

Mel has been living in South Norwood since 2007 and her husband grew up around the area. Her favourite part of the area is the lake which she is so grateful to work next to. She wants to see more of the shops on the high street in use and suggests a book shop and a toy shop would bring something new to the area.


Words by Elizabeth Walters

Interview with Mel, Owner of Lakes Café, February 2022

The Lakes Café

25 Avenue Road, London, SE25 4DX


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.

© 2024 Stanley Arts Charity No: 1155680