Linett Kamala’s “Kelso & Carnival”: Art, education and Black British history


Naomi Curston (SW Londoner) writes about artist Linett Kamala and her project Kelso & Carnival, which, she insists, aims “to ensure this history’s visibility.” She also discusses the Black Cultural Archives’ Windrush Waves competition. [Kamala’s exhibition “My Heart Will Always Be in Brixton” has been at Lambeth Town Hall (in London, UK) since September 2019, and is featured on Google Arts and Culture, where it’s been since June 26. The exhibition focuses on Jamaican-born Brixton activist Olive Morris, who fought against racism before her death at just 27, and who would have been 68 this year.]

“Sadly, over time, some stories are retold and some stories in history are felt important, and some just disappear.”  Linett Kamala is talking about the erasure of Black British history, specifically the activist history of the Notting Hill Carnival and Kelso Cochrane.

The artist, educator and carnivalist, 50, works all over the capital, and her latest artwork Kelso & Carnival brings Kelso’s story back to the centre stage.

Kelso Cochrane was born on the Caribbean island of Antigua, and he was part of the Windrush Generation when he came to London in 1954. His murder at the hands of racists five years later happened amidst a climate of extreme violence against the city’s new Caribbean residents. His funeral made national news and his death became a catalyst for small community-led events in North Kensington that would one day become the Notting Hill Carnival.

And yet, despite that, even seasoned carnival-goers may not know who he is. “This cannot disappear,” Linett said.

Kelso & Carnival, then, is to ensure this history’s visibility.

It has another purpose too – it combines art and carnival with Linett’s other love, education – designed as it is to be an inspiration for young people entering the Black Cultural Archives’ Windrush Waves competition, for which Linett is one of the judges.

The competition, open until August 2, asks young artists to respond to the stories of the Windrush Generation through visual art, photography, poetry or music. Winners will receive expert mentorship and the opportunity to exhibit their work.

Speaking about Kelso & Carnival, Linett identified it as ‘freestyle calligraffiti’ – a style she uses in much of her work.

It’s fast, free and emotionally driven, but a lot of research goes into her art too.

“I love researching the project,” she said. “Academic papers, journalists’ articles, all sorts, I just love, love reading, and I will make reference to that in my work.”

On Kelso & Carnival specifically, she said: “I always want people to learn, to be intrigued to find out more for themselves. [. . .]

Read full article and see more work by L. Kamala at Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.

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