In the words of Alston Becket Cyrus, “Carnival is mas and music! Carnival is calypso! Carnival is mas and steel-band! Carnival is peace!” As an innate music lover, my fondness for Soca and Carnival on a whole transcends the revelry or “good-time” that most may identify with. I have a penchant appreciation for the carnival art-form; the sweet soca vibes, diversity of costumes and particularly the inclusive harmony.
On the 8th August, 2019 I received a notification from Facebook that I’d been tagged in a post by my fellow compatriot in London – Ianna Parsons (whom I fondly call IP) stating that “Trinis in London” which is a media house in London, was looking for “volunteer” photographers. I had no DSLR camera and have only had amateur photography experience but with a determined and optimistic outlook I decided that I was going to give this a shot (no pun intended). I immediately sent off an email denoting my interest highlighting my field of work being a Freelance Writer and was instantly contacted about the prospect. Yes, this was NOT a paid engagement but the opportunity to give my service to such a reputable medium and have my effort noticed and featured was more than I could have hoped for. As I had recently started my blog and sourcing material, I reckoned that the best way to see the bands was to actually be in the bands and that was possible as I was provided with a Notting Hill Carnival “Access All Areas” pass accredited by The Outside Organisation which allowed me to go into the various bands to take photographs.
It was in this moment that I was reminded by the words articulated by one of my associates – Calvert Jones whom I hold in high regard, “Avoid going to “hunting” events to try to meet great people, you will most likely keep attracting the desperate and opportunistic types. Involve yourself in activities and events like volunteer groups or community projects where people with great hearts and the best spirits show up… Generally, the better we all become at giving is the more we are available to gain.”
With reference to volunteering ones’ time, one of my favourite motivational speakers/authors – Les Brown opined that “There is a presence within you where you can find joy, comfort and inner strength to give you the capacity to handle whatever you are facing. You have something special. You have GREATNESS within you!!”
For those of you who don’t know me, I am a socaholic at heart; soca music epitomizes the powerful yet sweet effects that soca music has on me.
Dancing to soca is my escape… my release – I am sure those of you who have seen me can attest to how the music embraces my energy and engages the full embodiment of my zealous gyrations but this actuality had to be curbed as I was dedicated to my devoir. Regardless of that, it’s the unity of love that fills the atmosphere which makes me come alive, creating a certain type of vibe that makes me love Carnival!
Notting Hill Carnival 2019 showcased a spectacular production of mas, connecting a community of unity, exploding with the vibrancy of soca music that excites you to jump and wave in harmonic rhythm, tantalises with the euphoric steel-band awakening the jamboree spirit of visitors and locals alike. And the cherry on top was the dazzling array of spectacular costumes on display as it truly depicted the kaleidoscope of colour and culture of carnival in the diaspora. Not only were the senses of sight and hearing excited but the exotic aromas of mouth-watering Caribbean delicacies definitely had a nostalgic and inviting endearment.
In a nutshell, Notting Hill Carnival 2019 was both a science formula and art as it was seasoned, mixed or cooked properly into the melting pot that it is today. It is with these variables that the artistry of Notting Hill Carnival could very well be the Biggest and Hottest Carnival in the world generating over £93million and a record 2.5million people in attendance! My experience was overall a wonderful one and a great opportunity to network and enjoy the festival. To Alex, Joe, Kristian & Ghino Parker, Fancy, Franz, Ben Pester, Shireen Fenner and Ianna Parsons thank you ALL for making my first Notting Hill Carnival experience one that I’ll always remember!
Dubbed “The original art party. A synthesis of sound & vision. Art inspired by music”, this idiosyncratic concept was the brainchild of sought-after DJ Chad Alexander and urban artist Joseph King some two years ago. Their friendship and appreciation for music and art has fused what could only be described as a larger than life outlet for up and coming creatives to express and showcase their true passions.
The event was hosted at Notting Hill Arts Club which is home and stage to many celebrities such as Mark Ronson, Rita Ora and Lily Allen just to mention a few. Patrons were given an opportunity to doodle surrounded by an eclectic exhibition on display by J. King, Pablo Malik, Motions of Clay and Stazzy and a collaborative live drawing by local artists; Mia Koko, Gatien Engo, Bamboo Kidd and Stazzy Art while UK Funky House music was played by Chad Alexander and Levels.
Co-founder and artist JKing The Artist showcasing pieces from his upcoming debut solo exhibition
I had the privilege of chatting with a few of the artists and here’s what they had to share about themselves and their art;
Mia Koko “I paint what makes me happy… it’s nice to get involved in a project that tests your creativity”
About three years ago, this aesthetic lass felt that she wasn’t doing much with her life and turned her childhood fondness of cartoon and anime into becoming a self-taught artist which is reflective of her artwork.
Bamboo Kidd “My trademark is one big eye and one small eye with the small eye slightly outside of the characters face. I would draw a character looking in one direction and I’d you follow that direction there’d be another one looking in another direction”
Another of the headliners was the prolific Bamboo Kidd who has been drawing since his youth but professionally for the last 10 years. Over the years he has incorporated a lot of his childhood influence such as Dragonball Z, The Simpsons and his friends on the music scene into his art. When asked why he does art, Kidd postulated that “art gives me peace and keeps me grounded”
The artist wants to earn his place within the art community and hopes that his signature style differentiates him from other artist as he endeavours to “Reproduce with a new narrative”. Kidd highlights up and coming creatives be it fellow artists or up and coming artistes as his mission is “bigger than art.”
Fatma Abujuma also known as FatmArt “Music inspires my art process showcasing power and confidence”
Mostly self-taught, Fatma loves texture and is a huge advocate for showcasing ones artwork on social media and embracing competition by focusing on what an artist loves. Since she’s taken her own advice doors of opportunity have opened up to her.
Motions of Clay “My brother has a very colourful and ever-changing personality; which can sometimes becomes a little dark and scary.”
Ronaldo Wiltshire is a London based ceramic artist who specialises in handmade face mask, clay sculptures, functional and decorative pieces. He was initially inspired by his older brothers mental illness diagnosis and influenced by his parents vocation. His art can best be described as taking basic material transmuted by chemical change and adding colour that animates the Caribbean island of Barbados from where he originates.
The above is a collaborative live piece produced and influenced by UK Funky music. As explained by one of the artist, they simply hear a bar or listen to a line from a track and recreate an image that comes to mind. The initiative bares witness to themed showcases influenced by different music genres with eclectic art and a lively atmosphere thus making it a spectacular experience each time. This young demographic of creatives is testament that as a society we can challenge the social and political status quo by networking a community of artistic individuals that bonds a lifelong movement through artistic expression.
The organisers and artists can be linked on social media with the following Instagram handles;
Endometriosis is a condition in which cells similar to those in the endometrium – the layer of tissue that normally covers the inside of the uterus, grow outside of it. According to endometriosis.org “Endometriosis affects an estimated 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years (ie. usually between the ages of 15 to 49), which is approximately 176 million women in the world [3-4].”
But although living with this condition, Neeka Anderson-Isaacs who is an endometriosis warrior considers herself to be a multitalented, multifaceted, humble, passionate, loving and blessed woman who finds it essential as part of her existence to motivate, inspire and bless others as she firmly believes “if I can help somebody as I pass along then my living shall not be in vain.”
Having Jamaican roots, Neeka asserts that ackee and salt fish with banana, yam and (dumplings which she doesn’t eat anymore) – The national dish of the land of her birth Jamaica to be her favourite West Indian meal beacuse it is just so delicious and she loved it ever since she was a little girl.
The fashionista who possesses a very humorous and an exuberant kind of personality is the communication officer in the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment in St. Vincent and the Grenadines where she is married to her best friend Kris Isaacs. Living with endometriosis is no easy feat as Neeka credits her resilience to her mother whom she hails “I am the daughter of one of the strongest, kindest and most determined women ever – Nelissa Drummond who truly moulded me in the woman I am today and can only hope to inherit half her strength.”
In this interview she espoused that “dancing is a passion of mine and the arts on a whole, I enjoy exercising specifically running and just touching peoples lives in a positive and meaningful way; the thing that I find the most pleasure doing each day is to bring a smile to at least one persons face.” Conversely, she posits that she can be very serious and focused as she holds a vehement stance to violence against women and children, and also stands against the stigma and discrimination against people living with and affected by HIV. In addition, she volunteers and supports the work of the WPP (World Pediatric Project) and the support they give to assist the children of our region in transforming their lives and providing them with a better quality of life.
How important is it for you to create an awareness for endometriosis and what sparked your interest?
Endometriosis awareness is extremely important to me as I am living with endometriosis. Recognising how painful and disruptive it is to your life as a silent disease and knowing how expensive it is I said I have to do something to help other women who are struggling and affected by this dreadful condition. I had a surgery last year and prior to that was on treatment for approximately 6 months and just the cost for the treatment alone depleted my resources not including the fare of flights, accommodation, medical expenses etc since the surgery was not offered in SVG.
As one can imagine this entire ordeal is very expensive furthermore emotionally, physically and psychologically taxing. What’s even more worrying is that most women are not in a position to do something about it, as most women don’t even know what it is or that they have it, to be diagnosed there is a specific procedure that needs to be done to confirm and that in itself is extremely expensive. But even in a moment that most may deem dismal Neeka asked the presiding surgeon on her case – Dr. Bennett from Barbados after her surgery if she would be willing to come on board with her to support women in her similar plight. She adds “I asked if herself and her team would be willing to work out a package to assist women and they agreed that they would look into it.”
The statistic is astounding. How can women combat against such a prevalent reproductive health issue?
There is really no cure for it just treatment but diet and exercise helps so I encourage women to eat as healthy as possible, reduce sugar intake and flour especially and drink lots of water. Although the pain would still be there ones diet helps to manage it a bit to an extent.
What advice would you give to women who are or have experienced symptoms of endometriosis?
Regular health checks is instrumental in early detection and management because most of the time there are other complications as well; auto immune challenges which I face as well, fibroid, Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) among numerous other complications. Diet and exercise helps but seek surgical intervention to manage symptoms.
FAM (Fashion Art Music) for endometriosis is an awareness campaign and fundraiser to assist women struggling with endometriosis and other reproductive health issues. Do you care to comment on how this initiative actually benefits those affected?
While she may have to do surgery again she has committed herself to helping at least one woman each year or more and that is exactly what she is bringing to life. It was after her resources ran out she pondered on how she could come up with funding to do surgery then the FAM for endometriosis which is fashion, art, music for endometrios was given birth to with FAM here also representing an abbreviation for family. Therefore, it’s family coming together to support an important cause as the entire family is affected one way or the other especially financially.
I want to go further into schools to donate sanitary napkins to assist young girls. Free condoms are given (not to students of course) but we don’t give away sanitary napkins and that in itself is expensive and it is needed because women and girls have their menstrual cycle every month in most cases and for some with endometriosis the flow is heavy and requires copious change.
“I just want to help women, create an awareness and support and the change starts with me. Last year I started this to help myself and so I decided to continue it to help one woman each year and so far we have identified one young woman whose identity will not be revealed at this point but when she is ready she will come forward to share her story and hopefully get some relief. I wanted to give some value for assisting me so rather than take a sponsorship sheet and beg I came up with a creative way to add value as well as initiate an awareness and “edutainment” by showcasing local artist, designers, fashion icons, models, music and the like.
Is the jumplife.svg in anyway associated with the campaign/awareness initiative?
Jumplife is me and I am jumplife, it’s a positive, inspirational and uplifting movement that shines light on life in all its facets and jumping into it with a positive outlook. Jumplife created and presents FAM for endometriosis!
What is the desired outcome that you’re looking for?
I am looking for support and an awareness to be created around endometrios and other female health reproductive issues.
I want people to be aware, educated and sensitive to the different challenges women face… much of which they are silent about.
I want women to know that they have support and that they are not defined by this condition and for men to understand it much better as they too are important to this process and is affected by it as well being that infertility is an issue that comes with endometriosis and it affects both partners.
Where health is concerned should people care more about doing the right thing or doing things right? What’s more important: ethics or ideal results? Do the ends justify the means?
Our health is our responsibility it is important to do the right thing and do it right and to take charge and responsibility for our own health. Ethics should never be compromised so if you are doing the right thing and doing it right then there would never be need for concern as it goes hand in hand.
Is there anything else that you would love to add or share about future plans or knowledge you would like to impart to readers?
I intend to grow and help more women and girls and to bring our men along in this process. I will continue to thank all the persons who have been with me from day 1 and continues to support me namely; Calvert Jones, Lisa Cordice, Rodney Small, Ivo Carr, Jacintha Hinds, Gary Young, Michelle Samuels and my husband Kris Isaacs to name a few and everyone who has contributed love and support it is not unnoticed and I truly appreciate it. Lastly, I would love if persons can come out and support this event which is for a worthy cause.
A firm handshake with an infectious smile and eagerness to talk with me endeared me of how amiable this highly acclaimed man is. His aura resonated with me and drew me back to that quote from Thomas Moore “Humility, that low, sweet root, from which all heavenly virtues shoot.”
Frederick William Finn MBA. F.Inst.T.T. holds the Guinness World Record for the World’s Most Travelled Person flying over 15 million miles and 718 Flights in “Concorde”. Amidst his countless accolades such as Ambassador Honourable Representative of Georgian National Tourism Administration and Travel Editor International Property & Travel Magazine, the man who’s known for flying high and wide gives credence to the adage of being “down-to-earth”.
About a month ago I entered an Instagram competition (just because) that was put on by a London based photography group and won the second price – a free photoshoot booking + free photos.
However, on the weekend that I was supposed to have done said shoot I fell ill and considered giving the prize to a friend or family member as suggested by the photographer. Withal, none of the persons I contacted were interested; whether they thought it wasn’t legit or some other reason so I literally regarded the opportunity as gone. To my surprise, at the end of July the photographer contacted me stating that although my prize had expired they were willing to extend it but it by another 30 days. At first, I thought this has got to be too good to be true but at second thought I said by all means let me take advantage of this because opportunities like these don’t happen often.
To cut a longgggg story short, I decided to kill two birds with one stone on a day I was going in Central London and had such a blast that I’ve come to the following realisations;
What is for you will be for you! Never try to pass on your blessing or gift because you feel undeserving or aren’t ready. When I won the prize I was ill but I also felt underserving as I never considered myself photogenic or “good-looking” mainly because of my being partially visually impaired. I tried to give away/ pass on something that was clearly meant for me and whether by the powers that be or some other fons et origo it was there for me to have in the end.
We sometimes judge our appearances based off of our phone selfies or societal standards of beauty but I have come to realise that my aesthetic is too dope to be based or governed by conventional calibre or the tiny lens that can cause barrel/ lens distortion.
When you love yourself and truly embody your imperfections; you glow from the inside out. By extension you also attract people who love, respect, and appreciate your energy and essence. Knowing that everything starts with and how I perceive myself, I now feel more worthy, valuable and deserving of receiving the best that life has to offer to me. It’s my time now!
I am on a different timeline baby! I am not the same person I was a year ago, a month ago, or even a week ago. I am constantly changing, learning and growing into the person I am meant to be. My experiences are teaching me to fully embrace and live in my truth, charisma and uniqueness while I rewrite my narrative!