Saturday 27 August 2016

Saturday 27th August: Notting Hill Carnival, Panorama

Notting Hill Carnival starts with "Panorama" steel pan competition ft. Mangrove, Endurance Steel Orchestra, Croydon Steel Orchestra and Metronomes Steel Orchestra.

Friday 26 August 2016

Friday 26th August: Notting Hill Carnival Mas Camps - Mas Africa at Mandiga Arts

In order for the smaller bands to make an impact in the sea of floats in the parade, CAMF are starting to team them up on collaborations with larger established companies.  Here MAS Africa have been learning skills from Mandinga Arts to make a lion costume for their king and in turn widen their artistic practice for the future.  By sharing knowledge and technique, the art form can grow, flourish and continue.  Here you can see Barbara putting a hinge in the jaw so that it will open to reveal the child's face as they are performing.  Also on hand at the master-class workshop are some of Mas Africa's young members who have grown up in the band and the next generation of new talent to take over the art direction.  This year's theme of "Roar" has been chosen for the children's section to promote the message of how to deal with bullying.  When I visited their own Mas Camp I witnessed the dance rehearsals to the Katy Perry song "Roar" which was incredibly cute and I cant wait to see how it all comes together on the day!  This white foam headdress will be decorated and ready to prowl with the procession along the route of Portabello!  Its going to look GRRRRRRRREAT!

Thursday 25 August 2016

Thursday 25th August: Notting Hill Carnival Mas Camps - Flagz Mas Band

So far I have been concentrating on the visual element of Carnival Arts in the costumes being created at Mas Camps.  The other two disciplines of the parade are music either as live steel pan or a DJ from a soundsystem mounted on the truck............. and dance!!  Here are Flagz Mas Band who are celebrating their 10th year on the road by combining each year's production they have taken part at Notting Hill Carnival.   Here they are rehearsing those 10 unique choreographed routines and teaching new members the moves.  Getting perfectly in line is key!  Head over to their site to see how its looked in previous years and hear their mix for 2016 here.

See their costume launch from March here.

Monday 22 August 2016

Monday 22nd August: Notting Hill Carnival Mas Camps - Flamboyan International Carnival Arts

 Flamboyan Arts run by Gloria Cummins is as truly glorious as her name.  From the Trinidad flag hanging out of the window, to the Trinidadian tinsel trimming kept in spectrum order on the bookshelves - this is the authentic Carnival Mas Camp.  Founded in premises along the W9 Notting Hill Carnival route in 1986, it  has evolved into a real-time living museum to the art form.  As soon as you enter the ground floor of the town house, walls are covered in relics of costumes and Caribbean paraphernalia.  Painted designs and sketches are tacked up alongside paper clippings and historical photo montages.   A reoccurring face in the mix is of Gloria's co-founder and late husband Larry Ford whose legacy is intrisic to each year's new direction.  His mantra of "Nothing Beats Experience" is emblazoned on the band's T-Shirt artwork for the 2016 theme "Wear In The World".  This title doubles up for both the act of playing mas and wearing innovation, but also the story of the world with different countries being represented in each section of their parade.  Designs incapsulate all continents from India to Greece, Africa to Japan and The U.S via New Orleans.  Within this artwork are also the two birds from the crest of the Trinidad & Tobago coat of arms, which is at the heart and root of everything from Flamboyan.  Here you can see a print of an etching from 1888, depicting early carnival in the Port of Spain, showing the procession led by the devil character like a Pied Piper. Traditional Carnival characters like these will appear in this year's cast but given a contemporary twist so that the "Jab Jab" is combined with an Italian clown jester.  This particular modern re-invention was a suggestion from an assistant who is at the studio on work experience and part of the Flamboyan scheme for providing apprentice placements.  His skill is in fine-art and his canvases hang amongst the artwork's on the walls since Gloria held an exhibition of his paintings.  His portraits of Pierrots with beautiful crisp ruffles are currently being translated into silk bloomers on the pattern-cutting table.    
I was like Charlie entering The Chocolate Factory when I visited and didn't realise I had spent nearly two hours looking around!  I absolutely love the essence of Carnival in its purest form being carried thru from generation to generation in this way.  I cant wait to see how it all comes together this weekend, especially the "Midnight Robber" which is getting a hat so big that it was taking up a whole table to be decorated with fringing.  I'll be snapping away on the day, so check back to see the final results from the road ..........

Check out the Flamboyan website to find out how to get involved and learn the arts of mas and play steel pan.