Carnival Special #1: Nina Manandhar

How ISYS's Nina Manandhar stumbled upon a group of teen dancers rehearsing for Carnival in a Hackney bridal shop

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In the run-up to the mighty Notting Hill Carnival this weekend, and to celebrate our partnership with the NTS Carnival Soundsystem, we have invited four of our favourite visual artists of the moment to share their visions of the world's second biggest street festival. We loose to Rio, which we're chill with, but we're definitely winning on the talent side: First up is this amazing series by ISYS's Nina Manandhar, which perfectly captures the effort, emotion and anticipation that goes into making Carnival London's most magical public party. 

I was walking down Kingsland Road late one night and I saw about ten teenage girls sneaking out from beneath the shutters of the bridal shop next to The Alibi. I was curious to find out what it was all about, so I went in the next day to find out more.

Twin sisters Maureen and Marva set up the House Of Antoine Bridal Shop in Hackney in 1992. By day they deal in white gowns and tiaras, but when the shutters come down, HOA becomes home of the Carnival girls group ‘Tropical Isles’. This series documents the busy months in the run up to Notting Hill Carnival, and gives a glimpse into the activity that bubbles behind closed doors in London's diverse High Streets.

Although this was shot East, I am a West London girl at heart: I grew up in Shepherds Bush really nearby, so Carnival has always been a bit of staple for me. When I was a kid I would go every year with my parents and get myself a sugar cane. I remember being mortified by my mum dancing with old Rastas one year. Maybe partially because of this I went through an anti-carnival phase in my mid teens, I barely went. One of best friends family lived in Ladbroke Grove and one year we went to Brighton to get away from it cause it always got kind of hectic. But I love it again now. I hope they never try and move Carnival fully to Hyde Park or some contained space. That would be a tragedy for public life in London.

Check out more of Nina's work here, and follow her on Instagram here.

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