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Print - Spirit of the Carnival

Spirit of the Carnival

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1988 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Joseph, Tam, born 1947 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D, case B, shelf 10

Spirit of the Carnival offers a political commentary on the ever-increasing police presence at London’s annual Notting Hill Carnival. A solo masquerader in masked raffia costume performs at the centre of the scene. On every side he is penned in by an advancing line of police officers in identikit uniform. A wall of riot shields forms a circle around him, through which a snarling dog has broken through. However, rather than being intimidated, the masquerader continues his energetic dance. The dazzling colours of his costume and his outstretched hands seem to suggest a form of resistance. Some writers have read Joseph’s image as a celebration of Black cultural and political resistance and resilience. It may also serve as a commentary on the way in which Carnival – and by extension the Black community – have become associated with criminality by the mainstream media.

Tam Joseph was born in Dominica in the Caribbean. He moved to London when a child and later studied at the Central School of Art and Slade School of Art. Joseph works as a painter, sculptor and graphic designer. This print reproduces an acrylic on canvas painting made by Joseph in 1984. The print was commissioned by the Paddington Print Shop for a portfolio of prints entitled 'Jouvert' by a variety of artists to celebrate the spirit of Carnival.

Physical description

Colour screenprint showing masquerader in masked raffia costume encircled by police. Scene from Notting Hill Carnival

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


1988 (made)


Joseph, Tam, born 1947 (artist)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

72/86 1988 SPIRIT OF THE CARNIVAL Tam Joseph


Height: 77 cm sheet, Width: 103 cm sheet, Height: 67.5 cm printed area, Width: 79 cm printed area

Descriptive line

Colour screenprint, 'Spirit of the Carnival', Tam Joseph, 1988

Labels and date

[From leaflet] 'Tam Joseph (b.1947) on the other hand, uses the mask as the focal point in a totally unequivocal message on the relationship between racism, authority and power, in a screenprinted version of a painting made four years earlier.' []





Subjects depicted

Mask; Masquerade; Carnival; Policemen


Black History


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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