Homage to Carnival

Homage to Carnival
Design Museum

Zone 4 - High St Kensington

224-238 Kensington High St, London W8 6AG, UK




Design Museum Opening Hours:
10.00 to 18.00 (Sunday - Thursday)
10.00 to 21.00 (Friday - Saturday)


The artist Sokari Douglas Camp CBE has created these new sculptures, especially for display in the KCAW Art Trail, in front of The Design Museum, where her work once stood when it was the Commonwealth Institute.

Sokari Douglas Camp comments: “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 has 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 maquettes 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.”

Public Art Trail continues across the area, with further sculptures displayed in Chelsea, Earl's Court, North Kensington. Follow the trail via our map.kcaw.co.uk

Thank you to our sponsors for supporting the Art Trail: RBKC, Kensington and Chelsea Festival, Cadogan (Principal Sponsor), The Design Museum, Exhibition Road Cultural Group and the Great Exhibition Road Festival, ECDC.