London’s Southbank is probably my favourite part of London, if I need a bit of creative inspiration that’s the place I head to. Between the Hayward Gallery, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Royal Festival Hall there is always something exciting happening there. A couple of weeks ago I headed over with my new SLR camera (in automatic mode as I don’t know how to use it yet) to test it out and came across the Africa Utopia Festival.
The four day event was a celebration of African music, dance, fashion, film and theatre. There were also talks, debates and workshops taking place over the weekend. I visited the Africa Utopia Marketplace in the Royal Festival Hall which hosted a variety of stalls offering fashion, accessories, art and homewares.
As you entered the hall you were hit with a ceiling full of rainbow coloured streamers and draped fabrics.
As well as the array of stalls there were also a couple of pop up hair salons.
I have always been drawn to African textiles and printing since my Uni days when I spent a lot of time browsing the fabric shops of Tooting and Brixton, being wowed by the vibrant mixes of colour and embroidery. This market took me back to those days, I felt a bit like a kid in a sweet shop wanting everything! There were home products with a modern twist, beautiful intricate beaded jewellery, multicoloured pattern clashing clothing, hand carved sculptures, screen printed stationery. Here is a little snapshot of some of the brands that stood out for me, I will do a separate post on these soon.
I could have stayed here all day and just people watched! Some of the outfits were breathtaking, I especially liked the modern twists of silhouettes with traditional African fabrics.
I felt very boring in my plain tee and jeans and felt an impulse purchase coming on so I ended up buying this FABULOUS reversible poncho for £20 from a stall.
There was also a ‘People’s Catwalk’ on the day in conjunction with Pride magazine. Members of the public could go up and show off their style.
As well as Fashion, Art had a big presence at the show. The piece below by Phoebe Boswell filled the large side windows of the Royal Festival Hall. Named ‘Transit Terminal’, the 12 portraits reflect themes of migration and a personal exploration of home.
Lakwena Maciver had a striking kaleidoscopic mural in the Queen Elizabeth Hall
That was my experience of the show, I would love to hear from you if you attended. I will definitely be back next year! I will post another report soon on some of my top brand pics at the show.
Ciao for now! 🙂