Finding the individual Mas Camps that make up the whole parade of Notting Hill Carnival is a safari around the city, spread out across each borough. I never realised that a church I cycle past regularly near my home in North London is actually Islington Arts Factory. Angela Slocumbe has a residency with her Carnival project "Glorious Backstage Arts" that focuses on training young people in all aspects of the craft of Mas from design to performing arts. When I arrived dance rehearsals were underway, being filmed by ITN News to be broadcast later that evening. Like me they were interested in the aspect of how each band is funded to take part in Europe's biggest street festival which is totally free to attend. In addition to Arts Council funding, the main asset is time volunteered to teach, make and participate. By becoming a member your fee contributes to the final sum to cover the costs of getting a truck and sound system on the road. If you enjoy watching the Carnival every year, whoever you are, wherever you are, discover your local mas band and get in touch to actually take part. No doors are closed, the only way they can continue is by the numbers involved. At GBA you can even get a taster as an evening dance class on Friday run by choreographer Daniel who recommends it as a fitness class in as much as learning the moves!
Saturday, 29 August 2015
Saturday 29th August: Notting Hill Carnival Mas Camp behind the scenes - Sunshine International Arts at C.A.F.E
From Wassiville in North London, down South to Brixton, my tour of London's Mas Camps took me to Sunshine International Arts. This community arts centre is called C.A.F.E meaning "Carnival Arts For Everyone" which it offers as a working studio filled with memorabilia, doubling up as a museum of the culture. Here are photos of these artefacts from a 13 year history of participating in Notting Hill Carnival and a couple of shots of this year's pieces under construction. The large premises means that grand scale costumes can be constructed and for this year's "Oil Slick" theme there are towering oil rigs being assembled as vertical back packs. As a member of the public you can attend workshops and learn how to make masks, headdresses, accessories and costumes. You are also welcome to take part in their band at Carnival. There were so many beutiful trimmings, I wanted to get involved but had to keep going on my journey .............. with a quick try on of this cosmic metallic rainbow rickrack shoulder piece!!!
Find out more details on visiting the cafe for lunch and how to get on board with the band here.
Friday, 28 August 2015
In the lead up to Notting Hill Carnival I am cycling around town visiting some of the Mas Camps to document the work in progress of the costumes coming together. Here is the work of a mother and daughter operation who share a studio and run two different labels making pieces for other bands who need expertise in putting together their looks. Here the pastel colour components are by Wassiville / Sophia Joseph who also happens to be Miss Trinidad & Tobago UK 2014! She fell in love with the art as a child when she visited Trinidad Carnival and knew that's what she wanted to do with the rest of her life! She initially learnt from her mother who has a line "Mardi Gras" (primary multicolour pieces above) and went on to study at London College of Fashion. She's now set up her own business which takes its name from the Trinidad term "Wassy" which means in a wild and flamboyant style. Its a family affair with their grand mother visiting from Trinidad to help with finishing the final touches which will be worn by "Release D Riddim". I'll be at Carnival to capture the parade on both Sunday and Monday to document all the finery from the front line ..................
Monday, 17 August 2015
My camper van was very happy to have a second outing this summer on another festival excursion - this time to Wilderness in Oxfordshire. Both nights were headlined by legends which was enough in itself = George Clinton and Bjork. Secondly, Nick Mulvey completed touring his first album which was monumental for me to witness as I heard the whole thing being written in the studio next to me. Thirdly it's a festival with a focus on wellbeing so I was in heaven swimming in the ponds, stretching out at yoga under the sky and running in the forests. Ive written up my experiences of helping Sarah Waite with installing colour in the coppices for her Mindful Meditation Run over on my Fitness blog for Hunger here.