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Nicola, Blooming Desires

  • Year Invented: 2018

Nicola, the owner of Blooming Desires, decided to study floristry at college when her son went to University. At first she worked with other people but then started her own market stall. This grew into a shop but she then decided to scale back down to the stall, which can be found Tuesday to Friday 11.00am – 4.00pm and Saturdays 9.30am-4.00pm on the corner of station road just down from Aldi. She sells a wide range of plants and flowers, and kindly helped me choose a range of plants which would be safe around my cat (conveniently labelled on her stall with ‘paws’ meaning they are safe to have around pets). She also arranges flowers to order for weddings, funerals and any other occasion.

Nicola lives in Crystal Palace but South Norwood seemed the perfect place to start her business. She loves the sense of community in the area and she knew so many people in the area. As I had this discussion with her at least four people she knew walked past the stall and stopped to say hello. She even joked with me that she finds it hard to come shopping in South Norwood now due to the number of people who will stop and chat! But she says this community spirit and friendliness is what drew her to the area. 

With a lot of empty spaces still in the area, Nicola would like to see more independent businesses. She appreciates how much South Norwood supports their local businesses and wants to community to be able to explore what is available to them.

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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