“I came across some beautiful watercolours by Isaac Mendes Belisario on the internet of Carnival characters and was struck that they looked like West African Masquerades. I made some sculptures of Nigerian masquerades, men dressing as spirits early on in my career.
Now, John Canoe is a character that came about because slaves were given the chance to celebrate for a day. This may have been the beginning of Carnival which is now recognised all over the world.
The Notting hill carnival Nourished London, especially the international communities in the city. I am hoping that display of Carnival characters will lift spirits; the format, dressing up as a character, is very contemporary, Batman Spiderman…. making an African character with Western clothing.
My small maquette focus on men dressed up and this explores gender fluidity. African men dressed up in sailors’ clothes with dramatic headdresses, the hat inspired by admiral’s hats also look like colonial houses or houseboats.
I was attracted to the image of a colonial house with shutters and trimmed bushes. This reminded me of the plantations where some of the slaves would have worked. Sugarcane plantations, tea plantations.
The luxury of drinking tea is practiced and has been adopted as part of English culture, Lipton’s tea, Yorkshire tea, Tetley PG tips. If you are shocked and need calming, you are given tea… which is nourishing. Tying these historical connections to contemporary life is an element of my practice.
”Tousling Jonkonnu was shown outside the Design Museum in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea where the Nottinghill Carnival is held.
Look at the e catalogue of my October Gallery show ‘Jonkonnu Masquerade‘.