High 5 Catford Spotlight On…Chacharocks!

Aline Duriaud is the face behind Chacharocks! She lovingly makes fabulous hand-made jewellery and took some time to share her insights on Catford with us.

What brought you to Catford? Do you think you’ll stick around?

My family have lived in Blackheath for years. I returned to the area about 5 years ago and after moving about I ended up in Catford. Sticking around really depends on whether or not it’s financially viable for me to do so. For the moment I have no immediate plans to move.

Image Courtesy Of Chacharocks

Can you tell us about Chacharocks?

Chacharocks is my handmade costume jewellery project, which I am growing into a fully fledged business. Each piece of jewellery is hand made on my kitchen table from re-purposed vintage and second hand pieces, vintage beads and findings, plastic, found objects and other materials. I am influenced by vintage jewellery and style, the Seventies and Eighties New Romantic club kids in particular, everything kitsch and theatrical, and my visual art background amongst other things. I love the sea too. I often see women wearing big, glitzy earrings and fashion in and around Catford and that influences me too.

My jewellery is for anyone — women, men, people who identify as androgynous or non-binary — who want to wear something bold, eccentric, original and lovingly handmade.

I try to keep my prices affordable while ensuring that they reflect the work and design that go into each piece. I also make custom orders, which are a lot of fun. I like collaborations.

Image Courtesy Of Chacharocks

What do you love/loathe about Catford?

When I first moved here I must say, Catford wasn’t on my list of London hotspots! All I knew about it was the big cat sculpture and the shopping centre. Having been here for about two and a half years it’s grown on me. What I like most here are the green spaces — Mountsfield Park and Ladywell Fields in particular — and the coffee shops sprouting up in the area. There is a great Vietnamese restaurant, and Little Nan’s coffee shop and bar is fabulous for the decor alone, plus they run a vintage fair which I’ve had a stall at and which is a great place to find interesting clothing and accessories. Catford is pretty central too — that’s a plus. There is also the Catford Arts Trail, which I’m participating in this year. I think it’s a fantastic event that lets people buy original art and design for reasonable prices, and showcases the many talented and dedicated artists and designers in the area.

What I loathe… well, I dislike the deprivation in the area and wish more resources were available to help people. Mental health resources in particular are insufficient. It frustrates me that libraries in the area are losing staff, and that the Citizen’s Advice Bureau has closed. These are vital community resources. The main shopping centre area is pretty grim in my opinion and could do with being refurbished and spruced up.

Where locally do you like to shop/eat?

I am a fan of second hand thrift shops and there are a few in Catford that often yield gems if you’re willing to visit regularly and spend time looking around. I get a coffee from the Good Hope Cafe in Ladywell Fields almost every day when I walk my dog; the staff are lovely and I respect the Jimmy Mizen Foundation, which opened the cafe I believe. Plus the manager recently let me and my photographer do a photo shoot in there and was very nice to us. I like Aldi and Holland and Barrett for groceries and I sometimes find cool odds and ends in the pound shops, to use in my jewellery. The Vietnamese restaurant on Catford Broadway, which I mentioned, is generally where I go to eat out in central Catford. I also like Sapporo, the Japanese restaurant. I like the fact that there are a few late night grocery shops on the main Catford High Street; I used to live in New York City, which is a real 24 hour city, and the local High Street reminds me a bit of certain areas in NYC.

Describe your perfect day in and around Catford.

Walking my dog in Ladywell Fields in the morning and grabbing a coffee from The Good Hope Cafe. One of my favourite parts of the park is the river running through it. Having lunch then getting to work on my latest pieces of jewellery, and updating my social media. I volunteer a couple of times a week, doing social media and blogging and running a writing group for two mental health charities, which I find rewarding. I try and do a bit of yoga or stretching at home most days to counteract being hunched over my work table. In the afternoon I walk my dog and then keep working into the evening. If I’m out my fantastic dog walker Caroline of My Paws and Purrs looks after Ronnie, my greyhound. I’m happier knowing he’s well looked after when I’m out. My life is pretty simple really.

Image Courtesy Of Chacharocks

Where in Catford would you like to give a High 5 to?

The Good Hope Cafe in Ladywell Fields, My Paws and Purrs pet sitting service, the new juice bar opposite the big Catford cat, which does delicious fresh juices and smoothies, and the parks. There’s a new-ish coffee shop and deli called Good Food, which is on a road parallel to Brownhill Road; it does brilliant coffee. The Catford Arts Trail is really worth supporting and checking out.

What do you think the future holds for Catford?

On the one hand it’s encouraging to see the borough invest in local small business in and around Catford with the new Ladywell Place units and new business pods in the council buildings. And it’s nice that Catford is gradually becoming more “gentrified” for lack of a better term. Local coffee shops, restaurants, shops and boutiques add a lot to the area in my opinion. I think that there are a wealth of talented people in the area; artists, designers, makers, entrepreneurs — and hopefully they will continue to grow their businesses and gain visibility. On the other hand in the two and a half years I have lived here I’ve seen social and community services being systematically eroded and that does not bode well for the people who need those services. While new housing developments are being erected, social housing is less and less available for example. I think there are many positives about Catford and also many areas that need to be addressed. Whether or not they will be is difficult to say.

Image Courtesy Of Chacharocks

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