Follow the Feathers

It’s the end of August 2022 and I’ve been reflecting on a very active Bank Holiday weekend which included a trip to the Notting Hill Carnival. A theme emerged when I examined the photographs I’d taken, where feathers were very much part of the mise-en-scène.

Here’s my visual journey:

Walking from Elgin Avenue in Maida Vale towards the Carnival I immediately spotted a lone white feather in the middle of the side street I was crossing. Over the years I’ve taken many images in this genre; an objet trouvé or found object which somehow resonates. In this case the quasi-monochromatic minimalism appealed to me; the juxtaposition of a pure white luxurious feather and the painted white line suggested a surreal still life plus there was a hint of impending autumn with the heart-shaped leaf. I was so absorbed in taking the shot I got hooted at by a car I hadn’t noticed approaching! Shortly after, in the distance I saw a couple walking hand in hand down the centre of the road, flanked by buses and cars. They were in flesh-revealing, summery costumes and wore tall feather headdresses. I tried to catch up with them:

On the Great Western Road, a masked punter leaves the carnival area; you get an inkling with regards the impending police presence:

Heading towards the Latin Rave Sound System on Portobello Road via Elkstone Road, I encountered carnival floats and colourful, flamboyant feather-embellished costumes:

Above, the feathers were so long that they extend beyond the camera frame. Below, a woman in a tie die top adjusts a citrus-shaded feathered costume:

Some of the actual floats were also decorated with representations of feathers. I love the way these gauze covers are semi-transparent so you can just make out what is going on behind them, creating a multi-layered image:

Things are hotting up; next up some feathery dirty dancing!:

On leaving the carnival I was in a tightly packed crowd and as I looked up I could see someone had raised a feathery creation in the air in an effort to protect it from getting crushed; I like the combination of feathers and leafy branches:

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