Ishmahil Blagrove’s definitive book on Notting Hill’s festivities, Carnival: a photographic and testimonial history of the Notting Hill Carnival, has been relaunched in style. On 15 October, a vast mural representing the cover of the book was unveiled on the side of a house at the corner of Portobello Road and Colville Terrace. It’s impossible to miss if you walk down Portobello Road.
The relaunch was necessary because the book proved so popular that it sold out and frustrated book-buyers have been clamouring for more. The original publisher, RicenPeas, has licensed the reprint to Carnival Village Trust, so money from book sales will help support the Trust’s work at The Tabernacle, Powis Square, and the Yaa Centre, in Chippenham Mews.
Photographer Charlie Phillips was clearly delighted that his front cover image has been commemorated in such an impressive way. In an amusing talk to an appreciative audience at The Tabernacle, he recalled that 55 years ago he was working in his photographic darkroom when he “heard all this commotion in the street”. When he went outside to investigate, he was astonished to see the first organised carnival parade passing his door.
Charlie emphasised the importance of capturing our history: “We’ve got to document the old times.” He noted that in the past the elders were often not very forthcoming, which has made the historian’s task a lot harder: “When I was growing up you couldn’t ask your parents anything, so we’ve got a gap in our history.”
A signed copy of the book was presented to West Ham star striker Michail Antonio, who is to play for the Jamaican national team, we were told.