Painting the town blue

THE MURALS painted by artist Jackie Hinkson are normally chock full of detail. Yet when it came to rising to the challenge presented by the cancellation of Carnival, Mr Hinkson reminded us, most powerfully, that less is more.

Mr Hinkson put up murals outside his St Ann’s home and indeed, thanks to his neighbours, up much of his street, and called the show On the Road. It was something of an echo of his 2019 show at the University of the West Indies, when he installed a 110-foot mural outside the campus library.

“It seemed to me that this was a good opportunity,” Mr Hinkson said in an interview a few days ago.

People desperate for a semblance of the high that Carnival provides thought so too. A steady stream of masked and sometimes costumed pedestrians, some with children and strollers, visited, alongside drivers safe in their cars. A snocone vendor turned up too.

Though Mr Hinkson’s work is not limited to Carnival, the reception of his show was the perfect reminder of the prominent place of the festival within the national psyche. It was also a reminder of the creativity inherent in the festival, a creativity that is powerfully effective precisely because it can come with no frills and often the spontaneous parts are the best.

In sharp contrast was the lack of imagination on display in the myriad interventions staged by a range of stakeholders.

The National Carnival Commission (NCC)’s grandiloquent launch of its website did not mask the profound misstep that project turned out to be. Instead of taking the opportunity to untether Carnival from its traditional models, stages and locations, the NCC did precisely that: devising a “virtual world” based at the rundown “Grand Stand” of the Queen’s Park Savannah.

Scraping together something at the last minute may be part of the Carnival ethos, but in this case, it fell flat. NCC chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters had grumbled about a lack of funding, but went further: he declined to partner with people who had funds and declined to recognise the winners of other events that were competently produced.

Even though the NCC eventually announced there would be a virtual Dimanche Gras show, there was no trace of that idea last weekend. Instead, the real show came when Mr Peters said he was giving the nation a gift, referring to the inert and incomplete website launched that day.

That was not the case with many other online interventions, including virtual events, put on by a range of private stakeholders. The TT Film Festival put online films about Carnival, themselves decades in the making, which looked at the past while gesturing to the future. Tribe the Band aired a film poem to Carnival which was rapturously received.

And a group of rats came out of a Woodbrook mas camp, perhaps smelling something foul.


"Painting the town blue"

More in this section