Love Carnival Trail

One of the interesting and talented people I met at Carnival Expo was Alvin Kofi of Kofi Arts. (He created the poster art above.) We had a little chat about carnival, about art and his lovely wife Tracey Sage bought one of my abstracts – Water is Life blood – and I thought that was that.

But here’s the beauty of Carnival Expo… a month or so later, Kofi got in touch with me about taking part in the Love Carnival Trail he was hosting as part of the Brixton Design Trail in September for London Design Festival. I said yes, and come September, the hubby was hauling two ready-to-hang paintings, over 50 art prints and a huge stack of By Leigh greeting cards to 100 Acre Lane in Brixton where the Love Carnival Trail would host its preview.

It was an absolutely wonderful experience – being surrounded by Caribbean heritage art and artists (amateur and professional). Whereas in my little Hertfordshire town I’m often the only black/Caribbean/non-white person in the room when there’s an art gathering, here my husband was one of the few white people in the room. We laughed about the dichotomy that switched and flipped with just a train ride or two but the entire experience left me feeling warmly welcomed by people that looked like me, understood my Caribbean references and who I later discovered were mostly students at Kofi Arts.

It was also strange.

I grew up in a country where I was not a minority and never had to think about whether the town I lived in had any other black people or not. Since we moved here Royston has definitely become more diverse (I even had a chat about natural black hair care on the school run one morning!!) but in the local art circles I remain unique, not just for my art but for who I am. I credit the Royston Arts Society with re-energising my creative spirit and leading me back to my art after almost a decade of admin! I discovered them while I was on maternity leave and though I became the only member who was under age 40, who had young kids, and who was black, I have NEVER ever felt unwelcomed at meetings or gatherings. In fact, within a year of joining they happily recruited me to the Committee. It wasn’t until I was surrounded by black and Caribbean artists that my brain felt “the flip”. Going down to Brixton, I was still an outsider because I didn’t live in the area and wasn’t a regular at Kofi Arts classes but I also was no longer the person that stood out instantly by just entering the room. It was a different type of warm welcome, almost like a soothing feeling.

But enough of the touchy feely stuff…

The Love Carnival Trail featured so many artists with Caribbean and Carnival connections that I didn’t know where to look first. Just to give you an idea of the talent on show, Ken McCallaCarl & Lynette GarbielFlo AwolajaCinnamon & Brown, and Drew Sinclair were just a few of the featured artists. From 16 – 26 September 2017, the Love Carnival Trail spanned seven locations across Brixton and included exhibitions of various art and craft mediums as well as events, performances and talks. Frankly, I can’t wait to see what next year will bring. If I’m lucky, they’ll invite me back!

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