Spirit of the Carnival

© the artist. Image credit: Wolverhampton Arts and Heritage

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A carnival scene depicting a Egungun surrounded by police holding shields. Gouache on brown paper mounted onto board. ‘Spirit of the Carnival’ offers a political commentary on the increasing police presence at London's annual Notting Hill Carnival. A defiant masquerader is surrounded on all sides by uniformed police officers with riot shields, while a ferocious police dog has broken through and snarls at the performer. However, rather than being intimidated, the masquerader continues his energetic dance. The dazzling colours of his costume and his outstretched hands seem to suggest a form of resistance. Some writers have read Joseph's image as a celebration of Black cultural and political resistance and resilience. It may also serve as a commentary on the way in which Carnival – and by extension the Black community – have become associated with criminality by the mainstream media.

Wolverhampton Art Gallery



Spirit of the Carnival




gouache on brown paper mounted onto board


H 198.2 x W 225.9 cm

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