The Caribbean Carnival — a site for celebratory politics

I’ve loved the Caribbean carnival in Leeds since 1972. Much of my energy in 2017 was taken up with engaging ever more deeply with this extraordinary form of art and politics:

  • Enjoying and photographing the Trinidad carnival  in Port of Spain, and participating in its extraordinary J’Ouvert parade  With Guy Farrar and Emily Zobel Marshall. Some of my photos here and here. (February 2017).
  • Making a photo exhibition about Leeds West Indian Carnival (April). Some photos of the exhibition while it’s on display are here. Commissioned and fund-raised (thanks, Arts Council England!) by Emily Zobel Marshall.
  • Co-organising with Dr Emily Zobel Marshall an international conference on the Caribbean Carnival , delivering a presentation on jouissance and the free carnival (available here – scroll down to ‘Carnival Research’), chairing panels, conducting interviews with the founders of carnival and other key people in carnival (available here scroll down to ‘Carnival Conference Interviews’). (May)
  • Writing a 17,000 word history of the Leeds carnival, including interviews with key participants. (Based on a version commissioned by Brett Harrison in 2000, for West Yorkshire Archive Services, and including interviews for carnival magazines commissioned by Arthur France MBE.) A PDF of the text can be downloaded History of LWIC PDF. (June)
  • Submitting the history of Leeds carnival and about 100 of my photos of LWIC (a documentary project I started in 1973) to the book celebrating 50 years of Leeds carnival, co-produced with Guy Farrar and Tim Smith. (Guy Farrar started writing the funding bid to Arts Council England (ACE) in December 2016. Bid included lots of free copies of the book for Leeds schools and libraries.) It was published in September 2017. More about the book here. Publisher details here. (June-August)
  • Helping make carnival costumes featuring David Oluwale and his migrant masqueraders. Photos and text here and here  and here. (July-August)
  • Performing this with the Harrison Bundey Mama Dread troupe at the 50th anniversary celebration of Leeds West Indian Carnival. (Guy Farrar successfully bid for funds from ACE on the basis of almost 20 years of work with the Harrison Bundey carnival troupe.)  Facebook page and photos here. (25-28 August)
  • Contributing around 25 photos to the fabulous exhibition at The Tetley (August – October) about Leeds carnival, curated by Sonia Dyer, in a project devised by Susan Pitter and Dawn Cameron and funded by Heritage Lottery. Report and photos in the press here .
  • Co-writing an article (with Dr Emily Zobel Marshall and Guy Farrar) about carnival for the journal Soundings, and contributing photos. Titled ‘Popular Political Cultures and the Caribbean carnival’, it was published in December 2017. Link to the relevant issue (67) of Soundings here. Free copy of the article (scroll down to ‘Carnival Research’) here. (October-November 2017)

A busy but productive and enjoyable year, with superb friends and family, in an excellent cause: to raise the profile of the Caribbean carnival as a vehicle for artistic creativity, education, radical politics, multicultural conviviality and joy.

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