“Where the grass is worn thin between the places we find ourselves and the places we would like to be”*

August 2023 - February 2024
At Turf and locations around Croydon

Desire Paths is part of Turf’s year exploring the theme ‘DEMYSTIFICATION’ and is Turf’s flagship project as part of  This is Croydon, London Borough of Culture 2023.

Nine locally connected artists and groups have been commissioned by Turf to create new work with a focus on disused and underused spaces around Croydon.

From August until November 2023, each ‘Desire Paths’ commission will involve a process of co-creation between artists and the public around the borough, exploring how communities and creatives can shape the places around them and forge their own paths in determining how Croydon’s spaces are used.

An artist-led charity founded by Croydon locals in 2013, Turf was set up to provide opportunities & space for creatives locally. Operating in ex-retail spaces in Croydon with an uncertain future due to as-yet-unrealised urban development, the questions we frequently found ourselves asking about who has power over space in our hometown acted as our starting point for Desire Paths;

How do spaces end up empty? How can we bring them back into use?

How can people be more actively involved in these processes, why aren’t they?

Who owns space in Croydon? What are the roles of culture, commerce & power in how space is shaped, valued and co-opted?

How does rapid change & regeneration impact our sense of wellbeing, stability, belonging & collective memory? 

How could Croydon forge its own path in determining how spaces and places are used?


London Borough of Culture is a Mayor of London initiative, with support from Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage Fund. The This is Croydon programme is being delivered through a unique collaboration between the cultural organisations and people of the borough in
partnership with Croydon Council.

*Quote from ‘Empire of Seeds’, a tribute to local gardener Esiah Levy by Ruby Tandoh



Commissioned Projects

Desire Paths is led by artists, organisations or collectives chosen collaboratively by the Turf team after our open call

The project will start with a symposium event at Turf and then unfold and expand across Croydon.

Find out more about the projects below!

a blue banner logo reading "public garden solutions - by Sam Wills & Lira Valencia"
Sam Wills and Lira Valencia
An artist & wildlife conservationist duo explore the possibility of a human and non-human coalition in service of local interests.
an illustration of a building surrounded by speech bubbles
Diana Phiri-Witty
Inviting local people to reimagine town planning as a wildly imaginative, community driven process.
the title for (pub)lic house. an image of the glamorgan pub can be seen behing the title text
Phoebe and Roger Wagner
A verbatim-poetry film looking at the past, present and future of empty pubs in Croydon.
a map of croydon with the town centre area outlined in red
Betty Owoo
Periphery Greens catalogues how new green spaces could weave the fractured town centre back together, a chance to bring spaces on the margins into the light.
A photograph of one of the whitgift centre's entrances
Georgeenia Ariaratnam
Informed by stories, memories and reflections of Croydon residents the character of “Whitgift” will be brought to life.
a photograph of two playhouses. the one on the left is painted black elevated on stones, the one on the right is painted a dull, brownish colour
Tom Bull
Connecting with Croydon's rural and folkloric histories with earthen sculptures in unexpected places.

April 2024 update!

Desire Paths has now officially come to a close as a project, but the work still continues to provide legacy for Croydon’s spaces in the years to come.

  • Our Desire Paths publication, creative directed by Georgina Johnson, is now available to buy in our shop. It provides insight into the processes the artists undertook to get their projects off the ground, and a toolkit to help you start thinking about your own ways of protecting and activating spaces in your area.
  • Lina is hoping to continue work on Reeves Corner, thanks to House of Reeves and the Whitgift Foundation. Keep an eye out!
  • Sam & Lira are continuing to place strategic swift bird boxes around the borough to help mutually protect both swifts and buildings. Have a building you want the swifts to help protect? Get in touch!
  • Phoebe & Roger have continued to screen their film (Pub)lic House in pubs around the borough, as the campaign to save the Glam from the latest application to demolish continues. As of 19/04 the application is still open for comments and objections.
  • Hoagy’s Imagine, Observe, Remember is now on display at South Norwood Library. You can see it by visiting South Norwood Library Tuesdays and Fridays 10am-6pm.
  • Georgeenia has produced a childrens’ story, Where’s Whitgift?, to sum up the sentimental feeling about our borough’s long-languishing shopping centre.
  • Betty is in the last stages of producing a card game to help you get thinking about how green spaces could be used and created.


Want to get involved in any of the projects above? Let’s get in touch!

Get involved!
Upcoming Desire Paths Events

Pubs across Croydon have been boarded up, abandoned and left to be empty. Phoebe remembers growing up in them.
Pubs across Croydon have been boarded up, abandoned and left to be empty. Phoebe remembers growing up in them.

Previous Events