Saturday 20 August 2016

Saturday 20th August: Notting Hill Carnival Mas Camps - UCOM

Following on from my previous post at M2K Mas, to one of the next generation who originally trained with their education programme - UCOM (United Colours Of Mas).  Designer Paul O'Donoghue  swept up last year's Notting Hill Carnival award for a spectrum of hues across the costume band culminating in a rainbow queen.  The success of this colour palette has left an inspirational wake in its path with other groups incorporating multi-colour into their themes this year.  Therefore, if you want to see future trends in Carnival art direction, UCOM is the name to watch.  
Attention to detail is perfected for each look.  As you see here, Fred is dismantling a silver chain and re-mounting it's azure crystals onto gold links to match the rest of the midas concept that celebrates the 50 years of Notting Hill Carnival.  "MythOdyssey" is the 2016 story for UCOM, split into many subsections including "Sirens", "Flights of the Phoenix" and "Pandoras Box".  For that reason every spare piece of space at the HQ is used as storage for completed pieces ready for collection and previous samples.  To add to that, Paul also takes on commissions of production for other Mas bands, so it's literally the most feathers per square foot that I have ever seen.  Each ceiling is dripping with lines of headdresses and corridors of rails of shoulder pieces....... not to mention desks for all hands on deck to construct more.
UCOM will have a presence all over this year's Notting Hill Carnival from their purple pigments at the Sunday morning "Jouvert" opening ceremony thru Sunday's family day and Monday's grand finale.  Keep an eye out for large glittering gold wings sailing down the parade to spot these Masqueraders appearing en mas.     

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Wednesday 17th August: Notting Hill Carnival Mas Camps - M2K

Although Notting Hill Carnival takes place on a route around W9, the parade of floats is comprised of mas bands who have camps spread out across the whole city.  During the rest of the 363 days of year, every postcode of London has it's own hive of carnival activity hidden away in spaces that can accommodate the grand scale production.  For instance M2K (Masquerade 2000) are renowned for voluminous King & Queen costumes which not only require large surface area for creating but also storage.  Here are images from their HQ in Leyton where their history of artworks hang from the rafters and are stacked up in racks out the back like a museum volt.   This archive is brimming with shimmering sails of satin and sequins on steel frames which attach to tailored harnesses and corsets.  Luckily and uniquely this team have an on-site welder to construct these elaborate engineered designs.  Above you can see a sketch of wings from this year's theme "Resurrection of Eden" and also the frame which is taking shape to replicate the vision.  
M2K's MO is to support new designers helping nurture the art-form in the next generation so that the Carnival Arts can continue.  For example when I showed my photos from their section at Hackney Carnival, a girl was pointed out who has just graduated and been with the band since she was four.  Infact one of my very favourite memories from children's day last year was their baby in a pink decorated pram / float which melted the hearts of everyone in the crowd - see here!
Across the road from M2K's camp is another flourishing designer who once trained under the inspirational guidance of their programme.............. see my next post on UCOM.

Monday 15 August 2016

Monday 15th August: Notting Hill Carnival Pioneers Community Festival

The man responsible for inviting local Jamaican sound-systems to take part in the Trinidadian carnival in Notting Hill, celebrated the events of 1973 with a community festival on the original grounds yesterday.  Lesley Palmer stood on Portobello Green and explained how the plot of land had been promised as public space when the residential area was replaced with the flyover road and train track.   Throughout the day he added to the story further by inviting acts up on stage to tell their own part in the legacy from Tony the Paddington Terror to the Rico All Stars.  Mangrove Steelband began the tributes to the recently departed pioneers with a set in remembrance to original "pan man" Russ Henderson and "mas man" Arthur Peters.  One of their percussionists was an 80 year-old lady who learnt how to play just the year before, which is an inspiration for proof that it's never too late!  All islands of the Caribbean were represented in the showcase dedicated to the music and artistic icons of Ladbroke Grove's diverse heritage.  This was neatly brought to a close at sunset by Gaz Rockin Blues singing ska and Sir Lloyd Coxsone spinning some classic reggae.  I finally tasted my first authentic Trini Roti and had a spectrum slush-puppy!!!  The sun shone down on us all day and Lesley professed that it was his favourite gig to date! 

Head over to the official London Notting Hill Carnival site for more info on the events of the Bank Holiday weekend and dowload the APP to navigate on the day.