Throughout July, Le Cinéma Club celebrates the concerts we’ve all missed with our Summer Music Festival. To wrap up the series, we’re excited to present Notting Hill Carnival, 83-86, a pedestrian’s-eye-view of the London neighborhood’s West Indian street celebration: an August block party with parades and live music, and a beloved local tradition since the mid-’60s.
Mixed-media artist Dick Jewell has spent years chronicling Britain’s party culture in films like Kinky Gerlicky, which simulates a freewheeling night out in London’s West End. In Notting Hill Carnival, he slings a Walkman around his neck to weave around dazzling parade floats, sidewalk sound systems, performances by the Mangrove Steel Band, and dancers filling the streets. “Back in the days, Carnival was more akin to a weekend-long party, bringing together the local community,” Jewell recalled. “To me, this film is a mix of home movie and documentary—home movie, not just because of my friends in it, but also looking back now at the aerial shots, they’re all from the windows of friends’ flats that I’d inevitably visit during the revelry.”
“I’d wanted to capture the energy of the mixing of Trinidadian and Jamaican culture on the streets of Notting Hill. The film starts on All Saints Road, known locally then as the front line; I literally woke up, put my head out of the window, and started filming.” DICK JEWELL
These kinetic Super 8 recordings, most of which were edited in-camera, are an exuberant tribute to the cultural vibrancy of mid-’80s London, a moment when dub reggae was thriving on labels like Trojan (Jewell himself operated a record label that signed Gregory Isaacs and Prince Far I). The sound mix is particularly immersive, blending the ambience of the neighborhood sound systems with the chatter of Londoners and vendors—all with the goal “to purvey the vibes and mood of being there,” Jewell explained. Driven by the rhythm of the partygoers, Notting Hill Carnival turns the festival into a buzzing kaleidoscope.
Since the ’70s, Jewell has directed over 50 films, and has presented his video art and photography at the Venice Biennale, Tate Liverpool, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and MOMA Sydney, among other venues. He’s often drawn to found objects: his 2005 film Dermot & Natasha remixes news segments into a psychodrama, and his ongoing mixed-media project Jewells uses his last name as a gateway “into current and past portraiture.” He’s also made music videos for artists like Massive Attack and Poly Styrene of X-Ray Spex. Currently, he teaches in the Print MA program at the Royal College of Art in London. His two newest pieces—a digital collage, One Blood, and a video, Faces—are on view at London’s Sion & Moore gallery through August 7. Jewell is represented by the influential agency Dobedo Represents.
Text written by Chloe Lizotte.