photographs by

Paul Baldesare   Peter Marshall   Dave Trainer   Bob Watkins  







I started to photograph carnivals in 1993 as an extension of my interest in Englishness, or at least my interpretation of it, which I have photographed for about 30 years. To me carnivals are unique in the way they mirror variety and depth of our social history through popular cultural images.

During the year, thousands of carnivals take place across England, ranging from small village affairs with just a few home made floats to huge lavish productions in the major towns and cities. Most of these only exist because of the enthusiasm of a small group of volunteers who struggle against apathy and bureaucracy. They are passionate about keeping the tradition alive despite the obstacles they face, although I fear they may be losing the battle. Each year the rising costs of insurance, stringent health and safety rules and changing social trends take their effect. In the future, the anachronism, which is English Carnival, may cease to exist or at least dramatically change in character.

Photographs can be read on many levels and although these pictures are social documents of particular times and places,to me some have a meaning beyond the thing itself and it is this possibility of the photo as metaphor that keeps me enthusiastic about image making.

Bob Watkins

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