01 August 2020
August Residency: Carnival reimagined
Linett Kamala is an interdisciplinary artist born in London, U.K. to Jamaican parents who before deciding to focus on her creative practice, had progressed to the top of the education profession in an executive position.
Linett works across various disciplines including mixed media paintings, virtual reality, sculpture, DJ soundscapes and performance art. Her works are recognised by its signature style – an expressive hand script, which she refers to as ‘freestyle calligraffiti’. She draws inspiration from oral histories, carnival culture, academic papers and abstract expressionism. Her first piece of street artwork dates back to the early 1970s, when as a child she painted a mural on the front of a youth club building in Kensal Green, London. As a teenager around the corner from her home, the tragic death of a 12-year-old boy whilst writing his tag on the wall of Kilburn Park Underground station made a lasting impact her. At the time she vowed to do all she could to make the new artform of graffiti could be experienced safely by young people and went on to set up Kamala Arts, one of the first spray can art organisations in the U.K. She is a graduate from University of the Arts London (London College of Communications) and University College London (Institute of Education). She has a long history of championing community arts, including curating the 2019 Uplifting Langa through Reachable Art (ULTRA) wellbeing project in the township Langa, Cape Town, South Africa and the Recipe for a Happy Mind Project in Success District, Hanover, Jamaica.
Her new series of work entitled ‘Carnival – a force for healing’ celebrates the positive impact of Carnival Arts on wellbeing and community spirit. Her talks are sold out events, including TEDx Ladbroke Grove and Olive Morris Art Residency. Her extensive ‘State of Education’ project takes the British education system as its focus by raising awareness of forgotten and untold stories. Through making use of artefacts, Linett seeks to encourage through a restorative lens; reflection, conversation, celebration and where appropriate, a call for action.
Linett uses art in a therapeutic way to make sense of her leadership journey within education, particularly in response to the emotionally challenging aspects of her former role of a senior leader. This included having to deal with issues such as discrimination, trauma, violence and the loss of life. The Channel 4 news piece on empowering women through street art featuring Linett has been viewed over 4 million times on social media. It made reference to the giant portrait of her on Somerleyton Road, Brixton painted in recognition of her community work.
Her passion for enriching the lives of others through art, well-being and education is demonstrated by collaborations on creative projects with numerous organisations spanning over 30 years. Her practice is a mixture of multimedia art pieces, collaborating on Carnival Arts projects, running her own leadership programme for teachers aspiring to be senior leaders and inspiring the next generation of artists through her work as an art educator.
Linett’s current exhibition ‘My heart will always be in Brixton – An artistic response to the activism of Olive Morris’ which drew upon the Lambeth Archives. Her residency proved to be so popular, its run was extended from December 2019 and due to COVID-19, the end date is to be confirmed. The exhibition has been viewed by several hundred visitors; local, national and international, as well as having a sold-out artist talk. An online version of the residency is exhibition hosted by the Black Cultural Archives can be viewed on Google Arts and Culture.
As an interdisciplinary socially engaged artist, I want to explore how Carnival Culture’s values of love, unity, inclusion and self-expression can be re-imagined through alternative virtual spaces and creative activities.
It will also be an opportunity to experiment with the therapeutic benefits of sharing aspects of my Caribbean heritage through Carnival Culture via inter-generational participation in masquerade (costume), music, storytelling, movement and heritage.