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Monday, 12 December 2011

Nigeria Celebrates Another Eyo Festival

There was a blend of culture, tradition and dance as Lagos State recently concluded this year’s Eyo festival at the Tafawa Balewa Square, held in memory of Chief Yesufu Oniru. The Eyo Festival is also known as Adamu Orisha Play. Being a unique festival among the people of Lagos, there is a widespread belief that Eyo was the forerunner of the modern day carnival in Brazil.

The white-clad Eyo masquerades represent the spirits of the dead, and are called “agogoro Eyo (tall Eyo). It is a one week event that usually ends with the parade and display of colours. The show is restricted to the Island area of Lagos and it is forbidden to be staged outside the approved boundaries in the Island.

The fiesta is regarded as the highest post-humous honour that any community can bestow on a deceased person in appreciation of his contributions to the society. It is primarily held to celebrate and commemorate the passage of an Oba or an illustrious son who contributed immensely to the development of the state. Although it does not have a specific date for the celebration, the Oba of Lagos, on who’s land the celebration takes place, grants an approval for the hosting of the event after holding due  consultations with the Akinsilu of Lagos and the custodians at Awe-Adimu, the base of the senior Eyo group. After consultations, the Akinsilu announces the date but not without him communicating first with the deity after the family of the deceased must have offered gifts to him which would be distributed among the deity families.
The Eyo groups that participated in the procession are Bashua, Erelu Kuti, Egbe, Eletu Iwashe, Eletu Ijebu, Ologun Agbeje, Opeluwa, Aromire, Obanikoro, Oshodi- Bukku, Bajulu, Onitana, Oloto, Akogun Olofin among others.

Speaking at the event, the Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola said that the festival was designed differently to accommodate a larger audience without diluting the core values of the play.
According to him: “We have chosen again to use the Tafawa Balewa Square which was befittingly the spot where our nation gained independence and where our national colours were hoisted for the first time 51 years ago. My administration is mindful of the economic effects and benefits of festivals and tourist destinations in our State and this edition of the Eyo has not been an exemption as it has stimulated economic and other entrepreneurship opportunities for our people”.
He recalled that the late Chief Yesufu Oniru in whose honour the Eyo was being staged, was a leader who through the instruments of law, sought to ensure that his people were not deprived of their inheritance.
Fashola continued: “The late Chief who was also the father of the present Oniru of Iruland, Oba Idowu Abiodun won many legal battles against the acquisition of his ancestral property by the then emerging colonial authorities. Whilst the Eyo festival provides an occasion for us to celebrate, it is also important for us to be introspective. We should remember this festival’s significance which is largely within the context of preparations and performance of formal acts by the Oba of Lagos and the elders of the craft.

Speaking to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, a native of Lagos State, Mr. Akeem Olorundare said that the Eyo was a unique festival that differentiated the Yoruba’s among other ethnic groups in the country. He called on the government at all levels to continually support the fiesta saying that the late Chief Yesufu Oniru was one man that exhibited good leadership qualities during his reign.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Sando Carnival launched at Skinner Park

Mayor of San Fernando Marlene Coudray poses with the members
 of Ballerz and Associates
 Carnival band “Sundance Spectacle”
at Sunday’s launch of San Fernando Carnival.
Heavy rainfall which resulted in sodden grounds at Skinner Park did not dampen the launch of San Fernando Carnival on Sunday. Mayor Marlene Coudray, who officially launched festivities praised San Fernandians for staying in the city and making the 2011 celebrations a success. “I want to thank you all for keeping the celebrations alive in San Fernando,” she said. “You can easily migrate to Port-of-Spain like so many others but you have chosen to stay here and bring proper bands for Carnival in San Fernando.” Coudray said the Corporation is working to make Carnival better in San Fernando. Sunday’s event featured booths with displays by 17 bands, as well as live performances by calypsonians Niko, Brian London and Lady Adanna. Joshua Hinds, the 2011 National Arts Festival Primary School Junior Calypso Monarch also performed admirably before a festive crowd. However, the biggest hit of the evening was reigning Young Kings Calypso Monarch Benjai who had patrons dancing along to his 2011 hits, “Trini” and “Wine to the Side.” Ivan Kalicharan, winner of San Fernando Band of the Year 2011 title, filled the Skinner Park stage with costumes from his 2012 presentation, “We Going Carnival”. J’Ouvert band Ballerz and Associates also displayed costumes from their presentation, “We Walking the Plank”. Providing pan music were top San Fernando bands, Skiffle Bunch and Fonclaire.
Kevon Felmine
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Tuesday, 8 November 2011


This video is coverage of K2K's Carnival Presentation hosted at Saute Trinbago, September 25th 2011. K2K released their best kept secret, unveiling 8 strong carnival sections for their new band - one that mixes elements of fashion with mas. Their theme for 2012 is 'The Waters.'

For more information on the band see their website at: or join them on facebook. We are excited to have been there to witness the presentation and are excited to share these amazing moments with you. Thank you K2K for sharing.
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Thursday, 3 November 2011

Trini Revellers out to capture top honours in 2012

If Sunday’s launch of Trini Reveller’s 2012 Carnival presentation, Carnival The Golden Years at the Anchorage in Chaguaramas is anything to go by, the band may be very hard to beat for the Large Band of the Year (BOTY) 2012 title.
A level of excitement pervaded the venue following the presentation of costumes. Patrons were very pleased with what they saw and the concept behind the band’s presentation. Trini Revellers will be acknowledging the work of several mas bandleaders for their outstanding contribution and dedication to Carnival, especially during what they consider to be the Golden Years.”

As such, the band will turn back the hands of time and attempt to recapture the glory and moments of those Golden Years. According to the leaders of the band, the accolades to these bandleaders can only be appreciated by re-visiting the glorious moments of their winning performances.

To the Trini Revellers’ Committee, the latter half of the 20th century can be aptly considered as “the Golden Years;” the breathtaking presentations of Wayne Berkeley, Harold Saldenah, George Bailey, Stephen Lee Heung, Irvin McWilliams and Peter Minshall can be considered the climax of the Golden Years of Carnival, as evidenced by their supremacy over the decades, each winning several “Band of the Year” titles. 

Trini Revellers' head honcho, Jeff Gillette, left, with former Poison bandleader Michael Headley
 at the launch of Revellers' 2012 presentation, Carnival "The Golden Years."
On the streets of Port-of-Spain for Carnival 2012, Trini Revellers intend to bring history to life when they present some 12 sections, mainly depicting winning presentations of the past which captured the hearts and minds of spectators.At the launch on Sunday, receiving tumultuous applause was the adaptation of George Bailey’s Bright Africa (1969), as well as the section El Dorado, City of Gold, Harold Saldenah’s winning 1968 presentation. 

Other sections that delighted patrons included Secrets of the Sky (Wayne Berkeley, 1973), China the Forbidden City (Stephen Lee Heung, 1967), Amazonia (Masmen, 1982) and the angels and archangels of Paradise Lost (designed by Peter Minshall for Stephen Lee Heung, 1976). 

Also on display were Swan Lake (Wayne Berkeley, 1991), The Wonders of Buccoo Reef (Irvin McWilliams, 1971), Les Bijoux (Wayne Berkeley, 1982), Picoplat ( Peter Minshall , 2002), Savage (Fun Lovers Incorporated, 1988) and Snow Kingdom (John Humphrey, 1966)

Mac Farlane in search of ‘Sanctification’

Crime, violence and the state of emergency were the inspiration behind Brian Mac Farlane’s 2012 presentation, Sanctification...In Search of.
Known for his lavish launches over the years, Mac Farlane, who this year opted for the confines of his Rosalino Street, Woodbrook mas camp for the launch of his 2012 presentation, didn’t skimp on theatrics, and in true Mac Farlane style, the five-time band of the year winner gave patrons a vivid representation of what next year’s presentation represents.

Mac Farlane held the attention of patrons for a little over half an hour as he dramatically unfolded Sanctification and vividly depicting good versus evil. Mac Farlane, emerged from a hole in the stage, and appeared as if he was emerging from the centre of the earth. And after tugging and fighting with a deathly and wicked looking character representing evil and trying to yearn towards a figure in white representing good, Mac Farlane was eventually “set free,” and was able to unveil the ten sections of Sanctification – “Aphotic” (Having no light, Darkness), “Luxuria” (Self Indulgent, Sexual Desire, Lust – One of the Deadly Sins), “Annihilation” (Destruction of Life, War, Murder); “Hades” (Ruler of the Underworld); “Salacious” (Lustful, Obscene, Grossly Indecent; “Lecherous” (Erotically Suggestive, Inciting to Lust); “Sheol” (Departed Spirits, Lost Souls), “Benevolence” (Goodwill, Desire to do Good); “Jubilation” (Celebration, Joy or Exultation) and “Patrioteer” (Flag Waver, Lover of Country, Loyalist). 
Brian Mac Farlane emerges from a hole in the middle of the stage
during a theatrical presentation
 which was part of the launch of his 2012 Carnival presentation
In Search Of held on Sunday at his mas camp,
 Rosalino Street, Woodbrook.

Unlike other Carnival bands, Mac Farlane’s launch did not feature models presenting costumes and patrons had to settle for sketches of characters in red, white and black.

Mac Farlane, who said he almost didn’t bring out a band for 2012, said next year, his revellers will be clothed in cotton as he has done away with all the fancy materials and trimmings. The band will feature the colours of Trinidad and Tobago’s national flag, red, white and black, with the red representing blood, black, the darkness and white, unity.

Sanctification...In Search Of is the final installment of a trilogy of presentations which began in 2010 with his presentation Resurrection and continued this year with Humanity Circle of Life.
source: newsday
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Monday, 22 August 2011

Spicemas: Character, Class, Jab Jab, Controversy & More

St. George’s, August 18, 2011 – Spicemas organizers are standing firm on this year’s theme which sparked debate among Grenadians at home and abroad.
The 2011 carnival theme was, “Uniquely Rooted in our Rich Ancestral Traditions. Spicemas: Home of 100,000 Jab Jabs.’’
“I am comfortable in saying that traditional mas is what stands out for Grenada. Jab Jab is unique to Grenada,’’ said Senator Arley Gill, Minister with responsibility for Culture.
He made the comment on “Beyond the Headlines,’’ the live GBN television show hosted by veteran broadcaster Lew Smith.
Sen. Gill and Grenada Carnival Committee (GCC) Chairman, Collin Dowe, both defended the chosen theme, despite criticism from some individuals and groups such as the Alliance of Evangelical Churches.
The Alliance called the theme “distasteful and disrespectful of the sensibilities of Grenadians who subscribe to Biblical Christianity.’’ It described Jab Jab as “a celebration and worship of Satan who was cast out of heaven in the first place because of his ambition and desire to claim God’s prerogatives.’’
However, historian Dr. Nicole L. Phillip is among many Grenadians who find no fault with the theme.
“Firstly, throughout the debate the theme has been misrepresented in its stating,’’ argued Dr. Phillip. “Critics, including the churches, claimed that the theme was ‘Grenada: the home of 100,000 Jab Jabs’. Simple research and inquiry, just by looking at the advertisements on television, would have informed them that the theme was: ‘Uniquely Rooted in our Rich Ancestral Traditions. Spicemas: Home of 100, 000 Jab Jabs.’’
She added that by “misrepresenting the theme, the critics have entirely missed the point of or substance of the chosen theme. In so doing it is difficult if not near impossible to make a rational judgment based on erroneous information.’’
According to Dr. Phillip, Spicemas is one of the best carnivals in the Caribbean.
However, she said that if Grenadians are to compete and establish a carnival niche, “an appropriate tag line needs to be used to promote this festival. It seems obvious that this was the thinking behind the theme chosen this year. Grenada can boast of being the only island that displays, year after year, from as far back as carnival has been recorded, unique aspects of traditional mas.’’
As far as Dr. Phillip is concerned, “the choice of the number 100,000 is simply a play on our population figure. It does not imply that all other aspects of carnival would be sidelined and there will only be Jab Jabs on the road. It simply emphasizes the need to highlight our traditional mas as being different and thus making the Grenada carnival experience one of a kind.’’
The Jab Jab debate has also dominated blogs on internet sites, such as the “Shoutbox’’ on
One blogger, Captain Queeg, wrote: “Nobody says to do away with Jab Jab; but should the rest of Carnival be virtually abandoned for it?’’
Another blogger said, “People choose to play Jab Jab; it’s their free will. Jab Jab bands do not get any subventions. But steelbands, calypsonians, mas bands and – this year – there was a special exposition in St. Mark for traditional mas. I therefore can’t agree that there has been any abandoning of other aspects of carnival in favour of Jab Jab.’’
RAA waded in, saying: “Jab Jab, like Rock n Roll, Rap and other new genres, were never initially accepted by the upper class, the religious and the mainstream, but instead, by daring youth. So the more Jab Jab becomes controversial, the more the youth will push it to the forefront.’’
According to Yokasi, “People play mas to suit their budget and we can’t legislate what people can or cannot play.’’ And D’Lecturer said: “In support of the Jab Jab beat, I must say it is not only Grenadian but gone international.’’
Carnival’s marketing thrust, including the GCC’s pay-per-view webcast and its internet site, has been bearing fruits, Chairman Dowe said.
“We have had excellent review of our branding and marketing of Spicemas,’’ he said. “Spicemas has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years.’’
Mr. Dowe and Sen. Gill said there was a “hiccup’’ with the extended route used at this year’s Monday Night Mas, when the parade’s lead truck broke down. But Monday Night Mas is “an asset and one of the unique features of Spicemas,’’ said Sen. Gill. “There is nothing like it in the region.’’
Mr. Dowe said future plans for Monday Night Mas include a better effort at starting the parade on time, and finding “some form of engagement’’ for patrons awaiting the arrival of bands along the Port Highway and Carenage.
Sen. Gill said strengthening people’s participation in Fancy Masquerade bands will require introducing programs in schools, “so children can grow up playing mas.’’
With respect to the growing phenomenon of numerous jouvert celebrations and the various parish carnivals and their impact on the national Spicemas festival, Sen. Gill said room must be made for “free expression and spontaneity.’’
At some level, he said, “you have to allow the parish carnivals to flourish. There must be some accommodation for the parish carnivals but the best must be on show at the national level.’’
Sen. Gill said the use of bleachers, provided by the Trinidad and Tobago government, for spectators viewing Spicemas on the streets on August 8 and 9 “brought character and class’’ to the carnival and “did not cost Grenada a cent.
By Lincoln Depradine
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Thursday, 18 August 2011

Island People goes back to drawing

Hearing the cries of distress from their loyal followers, Island People mas band has come to the rescue by offering to revamp their 2012 Carnival presentation, Heroes to suit the tastes of their masqueraders.
“What were they thinking?” probably was the most pleasant of the overwhelmingly negative feedback received for the presentation after the band launch last Friday at a venue close to Bowen Marine Chaguaramas, which Island People called Westopia. Heroes is a presentation featuring 11 sections all depicting a variety of local “superheroes” ready to take flight as defenders of all things good.

Few sections got the nod from persons who viewed the presentation or saw pictures; some were critiqued for “quirky” elements of design and others were bashed outright and rejected. Comments began surfacing as statuses, comments or “tweets” on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking websites during the live launch and continued afterwards when photographs of the unveiling from various media outlets were published online.

Island People’s Colin Greaves said the band committee members noted all comments regarding the band as well as the e-mails received from loyal band members. “Persons expressed to us the designs were not what they had in mind. They explained while they appreciated things Island People has done in the past which were out of the box and different, what they were looking for was something more in line with what is contemporary Carnival,” he said.

As a result, the band will be doing something which has never been done before in Trinidad. “We will allow them to be part of the redesign process,” he said. He explained a special tab has been placed on the band’s Facebook page which band members can click on to access pictures of the different sections. They simply have to click the “Like” button if they want the costume to remain in the presentation. They can also make suggestions on how to improve the design. The two sections which receive the least “Likes” will be eliminated.

“We are happy to commit to replacing designs based on the suggestions of our loyal band members. We have never done this before but we have received an overwhelming response from our followers that they are happy and relieved that we listened to their cries for change and even invited them to be part of this,” Greaves said.

The tab named, “Save Your Costume”, received numerous kudos from persons commenting on the page who called the band “brave” for their solution to the problem but asked that the band include male costumes for critique.

This process of including followers in the redesign, Greaves said, is part of Island People’s push this year to create a more personable experience for their masqueraders. “This year we are focussing on providing VIP or Very Island People treatment for our masqueraders and having them voice their concerns and us actually hearing them is part of this. Since this incident we are discussing having more public involvement in the band in the future but for 2012 we have decided to have more questionnaires and online polls to get feedback from our masqueraders,” he said.

Greaves attempted to defend the original costumes which made up the Heroes presentation. “They are avant garde costumes, not the traditional large feathered backpacks or costumes decorated with shiny bling which are elements of contemporary mas. We tried to be a little different. You will see designs for super hero costumes internationally, there is no feathers or bling included but because it is for our Carnival there are some elements of this in the costumes.

“We wanted people to see the band and identify it with Island People and not just a pretty blinged out creation. But I guess our followers did not expect us to go that far out the box,” he said.

Greaves said committee members met with their designers who have agreed to revisit the designs and after taking the suggestions of the public will complete the new designs for viewing by next week, in time for the opening of the band house on Tragarete Road on August 25.

“We have been talking back and forth about what we will put out and we have agreed that we will maintain Island People’s uniqueness and originality that we are known for. Do not expect all bling and feathers but we will pull back on the reins. As we have seen some people are really happy with some of the designs so we know how far our followers are willing to push limits and to move out of box,” he said.

Greaves said the new designs will be launched within the coming week in a smaller event that the big launch last Friday.

They are working on having it streamed live so persons who cannot attend the launch can also view the new costumes. “And of course we would be welcoming feedback,” he said.
By Leiselle Maraj

Friday, 12 August 2011

No, don't stop the Notting Hill Carnival

The spirit of Carnival: to cancel this year's event
would be a shameful overreaction
Should the Notting Hill Carnival go ahead following the riots? Yes, of course it should. As a long-term resident of the area I am increasingly fed up with my front garden being used as a public loo (and worse besides). The noise, rubbish and sheer volume of people are intolerable and I yearn for it to relocate to Hyde Park, as former Mayor Ken Livingstone once suggested. But to cancel it this year would be completely the wrong thing to do - and for all the wrong reasons.

As football matches are called off and Parliament is recalled (a pointless exercise, simply to prove that not all politicians are on their sunloungers) we are in danger of losing our heads and over- reacting. A plethora of Facebook sites have been set up this week, including Stop the Notting HIll Carnival Now and Stop the Notting Hill Carnival for Safety Sake. The social networking sites are in danger of becoming anti-social sites.

There were similar calls to cancel the Carnival after the July bombings in 2005 but it went ahead. Just as we shouldn't give in to terrorists, so we shouldn't capitulate to a bunch of opportunistic hoodlums who barely number a few hundred. If we can't even organise a Carnival, what sort of message will this send to the world about the Olympics?

Yes, it will be a drain on police resources - but it is a drain every year and it's up to the police and the organisers to liaise and make sure it passes off without major incident.

In fact given that more than a million people attend, it is astonishing how little disorder there is at Carnival. Gradual improvements have been made such as earlier start and finishing times. Scale it back further, if we must, but don't let the killjoys win the day. For many people it is the highlight of the year; hundreds of steel drummers have spent months rehearsing. It would be a shame if all their hard work went to waste.

We should not forget that huge swathes of London stayed riot-free. And as the residents of Clapham and Croydon demonstrated, far more people are willing to clean up the streets than trash them. Our streets should be reclaimed by those who love them. And there is no better example of this community spirit than the Notting Hill Carnival. Let the steel drums ring out. But please, please when it's all over, can it be relocated next year?

* Mat Collishaw, a former Young British Artist, complains that the world of street art is overrun by the middle classes and is full of the privileged few who are affecting a political conciousness. I can only assume he means Banksy. I wonder if he approves of the graffiti painters who daubed "Welcome to Hackney" on the walls and hoardings after the riots. Not all of them came from privileged backgrounds - but does that make their street art any more artistic?
Sebastian Shakespeare

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Golden era of Mas

Farewell: Anthony Chow Lin On, right, relatives and friends carry the casket of his father
 Alwin Chow Lin On at St Finbar's RC Church, Diego Martin yesterday.
In the eulogy to his father Alwin “Chow Lee” Chow Lin On yesterday at St Finbar’s RC Church, Morne Coco Road, Diego Martin, Anthony Chow Lin On (Chinese Laundry) said Chow Lee’s personal dream was to one day go back to the golden era of Sally (Harold Saldenah), (George) Bailey, (Peter) Minshall and others, who were his heroes and influences.

He spoke of his father keeping many notes and in later years writing his experiences and thoughts about pan and Mas, every note ending with Sankofa, almost like a call to arms, a revolution.

The Sankofa is a symbol which represents the idea that one must take from the past what is good and bring it into the present in order to make positive progress through the benevolent use of knowledge. Sankofa belongs to the Akan language spoken by the Akan people, ethnic groups of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

He then explained how his dad felt about the golden era of Mas through one of his notes, quoting: “Trinidad and Tobago must become the vanguard of our Carnival culture, with the Carnival City where you can see all the great costumes like “Man Crab”, “The hat I had for Christmas was too Big”, “The Cray Fish”, “Bachac Pushing Ganja”, “Beauty in Perpetuity” and “The Sacred and the Profane” all dancing at the Carnival City and also displayed at the museum all year round....wouldn’t that be great?”

Chow Lee was born and grew up in Sangre Grande as a typical shop keeper’s son, then moved to Port-of-Spain where he attended St Mary’s College but left after fourth form to work with his uncle George Pantin at his accounting firm.

After a few years Chow Lee returned to Sangre Grande to run the family business and that is where he got his early experience in Mas, stick fighting, and steelband. He was the founding member of Cordettes Steelband in 1962, and at the funeral, a number of ex-Cordettes members reunited to play a soothing rendition of Baron’s “Words” during which, a number of people quietly wept. Chow Lee even went on to be a past Pan Trinbago president.

His love for Mas began with Elsie and Stephen Lee Heung’s “Paradise Lost” in 1976. It was the first time he got to work on costumes and he came out with a wealth of knowledge and experience working with Peter Minshall. A year later came the birth of Zodiac of which Chow Lee was a part, organised to produce Minshall’s designs. That they did for four years before handing over the band to Minshall.

Chow Lee has been known to bring Minshall’s designs to life through his clever engineering of the structures of the queen and king costumes, many of them going on the take the national titles.

He also had a great knowledge of the concept of fibreglass back packs and, drawing on his as well woodworking and carving skills he also manufactured costumes locally, as well as for Mas in London.

Then there was his restaurant businesses Char B Que and Atlantis where he exposed his culinary skills but, said Anthony, his significant achievement was to the art of Mas. Among the personalities who attended the funeral service were Peter Samuel, Pelham Goddard, Dr Bernard Picou, George and Joey Ng Wai, Howard Chin Lee, Johnny Soong, Canute Spencer, Frank Martineau, Earl Crosby, Rachel Price, Earl Patterson and John Humphrey.

By Joan Rampersad Saturday, August 6 2011
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Sunday, 10 July 2011

The Archiver

Un pilote, voyageant à travers l'espace, rentre de mission...

A pilot, travelling through space, returns from a mission...

Un film de Thomas Obrecht, Guillaume Berthoumieu et Marc Menneglier

Promotion ARTFX 2011

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Sunday, 19 June 2011

COCOYEA Presents: Glitz and Glam: Notting Hill Carnival 2011.

Cocoyea Launches there N.H.C. 2011 theme 'Glitz & Glam' tonight, and from the name it sounds like its going to be a sparkly event.
What are you doing this evening?

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Tuesday, 14 June 2011


The Addicted mas section have released photos of there costumes for Notting Hill Carnival 2011on facebook  Unstoppable will be part of Cocoyea's presentation 'Glitz and Glam'.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Wayne Berkeley dies

Masman Wayne Berkeley passed away at 7.35 pm last night at his Clifford Street, Belmont, home.
Berkeley, 70, suffered a stroke to his right side two weeks ago and was taken to the St Clair Medical Clinic. He was discharged six days ago. According to his brother, Oswald, his condition was not improving. As a result, Oswald who lives in Hamilton, Ontario, flew in on Monday to be with him. Berkeley is survived by two other brothers—Claetus who lives in Chaguanas, and Eldon, who also lives next door at Clifford Street. Funeral arrangements are tentatively set for Tuesday. In 2000 Berkeley also suffered a stroke on his right side (his “writing/drawing” side).
Berkeley won nine Band of the Year titles and produced 18 mas bands. In 1974 he was awarded the Humming Bird Gold Medal for his contribution to the development of Carnival. Berkeley first attracted national attention in 1965 when he designed the costume for the winner of the then Jaycee’s Carnival Queen contest. It was in 1973,  as leader of a large band, he burst onto the scene with the first of his nine winning Band of the Year productions, “Secrets of the Sky” (along with Bobby Ammon). His other eight winning productions—from a total of 18 bands, spanning 1973 to 1997, were in 1974, 1980, then six consecutive victories from 1989 to 1994, surpassing George Bailey’s beaver trick from 1959-1963. He placed second on five occasions and third on three. In 1998, he designed yet another winner “Amaranth—The Secret Garden”, this time for bandleader Earl Patterson.

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Friday, 20 May 2011

UNSTOPPABLE: Culture Unleashed. The Addicted Mas Section for N.H.C 2011

The Addicted mas section presents 'Unstoppable, Culture Unleashed'.
This video clip highlights the journey carnival culture has taken from the West coasts of Africa, to the Barrack yards and streets of Trinidad and Tobago, to the streets of Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove West London , England.
It also gives just a glimpse of what West Indians faced before Carnival was introduced to the British society.

From Africa, to slave ships, to Emancipation.
From Immigration, to Social Rejection, and open aggression.
From Police oppression, to cultural proliferation.
Carnival culture is...

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Monday, 2 May 2011

Sugar Cane's 'Wicked and the Winkie Guards for Caribana 2011

Here is some insight from the ladies of Sugar Cane doing the ground work in the development of their section Toronto revellars  presentation Welcome to OZ. 'Wicked  and the Winkie Guards, for Caribana 2011.

The Launch...

Toronto Revellars launch.

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Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Natalya Mills Interviews Albert Bailey

The Carnival of Trinidad and Tobago: An Interview with Albert Bailey 

By Natalya Mills

“Beauty and Perpetuity” by wire bender Steven Derrek, a remake of a George Bailey classic in 2010 Kiddies Carnival.

The carnival of Trinidad and Tobago—one of the most renowned and celebrated carnivals worldwide—is known for its innovation, creativity, imagination and fanfare. During each carnival season, a great level of originality is generated by the mas-making [mask-making] community, which produces costumes worthy to be deemed the Couture of the Caribbean. These handmade, one of kind costumes often leave spectators and the masqueraders alike in awe. However, in recent years there has been a significant change in the quality of costumes that are being produced in Trinidad. Mass production of costumes and an increasing urge to make larger financial profits takes away from the distinctive cultural and creative aspects of mas.

Wire Bending is at the heart of mas making, without which a large part of the singularity of the Trinidad carnival would be lost. These wire benders bring signature styles to the carnival and assist designers in bringing their ideas to life. Many of the wire-benders have no formal training, yet they create great engineering and mechanical feats. One of these craftsmen Mr. Albert Bailey continues to build elaborate costumes and teach the craft of bending wire. On my trip back home to Trinidad I had the pleasure of sitting with him to discuss the Trinidad carnival.
NB Wire Bending is the heart and backbone of Trinidad carnival costume making. Unlike carnivals in Brazil and New Orleans that consist predominately of large floats, Trinidad’s carnival costumes are carried by the masquerader. Wire bending is not a simple procedure and the costumes are not as heavy as they may seem. It takes a great amount of ingenuity and skill to create the frames of these grand costumes that you see on the streets of Trinidad, Brooklyn, Canada, London and other Caribbean islands during carnival season. There is a lot of precision needed to create these masterpieces made of wire and tape, alongside, bamboo and fiberglass. These frames are then decorated and paraded during carnival, but beneath the feathers, fabric, glitter and beading, are these great wire structures.

Natalya Mills: Tell me about yourself Mr. Bailey.

Albert Bailey: My name is Albert Windsor Bailey, brother of the great George Bailey. I was born on December 4th 1936. I was born on 12 Buller Street, Woodbrook, Trinidad and Tobago. I am 73 years old and I have been working with wire since 1946. I am the oldest wire bender in Trinidad and my skills are based on form. Since the time I started, carnival has changed: we have become more commercialized and we have faster operations. We make forms from plastic now, but thank goodness we still have some forms made in wire. There are a few of us that work exclusively in wire, people like Clyde Basker, Senor Gomez, Stephen Derek and myself that do form bending. We now have the Mas Academy of Trinidad were we teach form making. If we don’t save the art [of wire bending], the Trinidad carnival would loose its singularity and become like the one in Brazil with massive floats, as opposed to wire frames carried by an individual. We are the ones that are supposed to make sure that the art [of carnival] will be on our people and Brazil will keep their art on the floats. This sort of craft [of bending wire] is dying out slowly, but we are trying to hold on to it. With people like you seeking the information, I believe the craft will be in good shape and will be preserved. But I don’t only do wire, I do copper, I do papier-mâché, I do form work, I do fiberglass work, which is now taking the place of the wire. I also do steel work.

NM: So you’re a well rounded with materials. How did you get involved in this type of carnival art/ craft?

AB: When George (my brother) started making mas in 1856, I was just peeping around and saw certain men doing certain works with wire and figured I can do it. I tried it and I became successful at wire. As a little child I tried it with traditional costumes: the wild Indians, the fancy Indians, as well as bringing improvement to the fireman costume. My first fireman had a big collar. Then I started to make sailor mas, and eventually I began making massive costumes.

NM: Did you only work with your brother?

AB: I worked with Peter Minshall [a very well-known carnival designer] for 12 years

TanTan and Saga Boy from the band Tantana 1990-Peter Minshall.

NM: And what was that experience like?

AB: That was is what I would call a classic experience. It was a continuation from George to Peter, which I enjoyed very much. I was part of the creation of TanTan for Peter Minshall’s band Tanana in 1990. I was involved in the creation of Lord of Flies (Santimanitay). I was responsible for scorpion. If a smaller band requested me to make something I would. The craft must go on, right now I am training my granddaughter to bend wire. She designs for a children’s band in Trinidad.

NM: So let’s say for example, when you did Santimanitay, what was the process? How did it start?

AB: Well it started with the idea of the designer Peter Minshall. When he showed me Santimanitay on paper, I studied it and gave him a prototype. If it was satisfactory he will give you the ok to proceed and start to construct the piece with wire.

NM: It is amazing to see TanTan in motion. The fact that she is so large and is carried by an individual is an engineering feat. Turning to the making of it: so you do the prototype, Minshall agrees to it and you go ahead and start. Looking at something like TanTan how do you know how much wire you need

 AB: You don’t know, you just keep going. You look at the footage, if it 30 feet then you start scaling. If the legs are 50 inches then the arms will be this much, the torso will be this much etc. And you keep putting the human body into focus until you get what you are looking for. It took about 480 wire rings to make Tan Tan mobile.

NM: So when you are using the wire are you using other materials as well and does that cause a problem?

AB: Well the matching of the materials will be done with paint or skin color or clothes. But that’s when the seamstress comes into play.

NM: Is the seamstress working alone or does she have help?

AB: If the seamstress decides to get the garments made by a factor or make them herself that’s up to her. All the wire benders do is get the measurements from the individual that will be carrying the costume and work from that. I have to build the costume off of the individual wearing it.

NM: Have you worked on King and Queen costumes that were being judged during the carnival?

AB: I worked on all kinds of mas, individuals, Kings, Queens, and kiddies. Children’s mas are my pride now.

NM: Do you use different wire gauges?

AB: I do, it depends. The kid’s costume I work with fiberglass and 12-gauge wire. With adults I use 8-9 gauge wire because it’s thicker and I use fiberglass jackets or aluminum jackets on the individual that is wearing the costume.

NM: When you say jacket you mean the piece that is worn under the costume that holds it up on the individual?

AB: Yes the brace is what they wear to hold the weight of the costume. It’s worn like a sort of backpack.

NM: So when you start with the brace, you already have someone to fit it? So before TanTan you already knew who was going to carry/perform her?

AB: Allyson Brown performed TanTan and Peter Samuel performed Saga Boy. The individual must come and be measured and fitted. Everything works from the base and then you build up as high as you want. Sometimes it gets heavy. But most of the time you working with the scale and the most you want the costume to weigh is 45 or 50 pounds, reasonable enough to wear for 7 minutes on the stage to be judged. If you are wearing the costume in the streets for carnival I will try to make it lighter or to get someone to help you carry it.

For the rest of the interview see FASHION PROJECTS

About the author
Natalya Mills

Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies, Natalya Mills watched her grandmother create men suits for politicians; she played around in a Steel Pan-Yard while her uncle practiced his music. Her grandfather, a talented artist and musician, made her life-long love for art inevitable. After leaving Trinidad in her teen years to move to New York, she took her early influences with her. Natalya attended the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she studied Fashion Design, as well as Display and and Visual Arts Management. At present, she is completing her masters in Visual Culture: Costumes Studies at New York University. Natalya is also currently researching and working on a book about wire benders from Trinidad.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

UWI’s Jouvay Ayiti inspired by earthquake in Haiti

There are no costumes on display at the launch of Jouvay Ayiti, a J’Ouvert band presented by the Department of Creative and Festival Arts (DCFA). Instead, guests were told they would be making their own mas. Emcee Marvin George explained that Jouvay Ayiti was more than just a mud band; it was an attempt to have participants engage ideas about Haiti, and through the creative process, arrive at new understandings.
He told the guests at the St Augustine venue, who had braved heavy rains on the night of February 10 to support the venture, that the idea for Jouvay Ayiti was inspired by the earthquake that devastated the island in 2010. He said more than 50 Haitian students had been adopted into the St Augustine campus community, following the disaster. George said Haiti was important to the heritage of the region and calledthe island “the Mudder of civilisation,” making a pun on the J'Ouvert theme.
A Guyanese traditional masquerade, made of recycled materials,
portraying Fowl Cock, at the launch of Jouvay Ayiti.
This year’s Old Yard event, (formerly Viey la Cou),
 on February 27 from noon,
also at the DCFA, will feature elements of Guyanese Carnival.
 Photos: Gillian Moore
He said in keeping with T&T and Haitian Carnival traditions, all costumes should make a personal statement and be crafted from recycled, found and natural materials. He also cautioned that J’Ouvert mud should complement, not mar, the designs. Guests were treated to several cultural presentations, including performances by singers Baby Pink and Amrika Matroo and sailor mas. Haitian Rara dancers also performed.
They will be featured in the upcoming theatrical production, Here is my Ass Now Try to Whip It, opening on March 25 at UWI's Learning Resource Centre. A traditional Guyanese Fowl Cock, fashioned from bamboo and chicken feed bags, also made an appearance. George noted that this year’s Old Yard event (formerly Viey la Cou), to be staged at the DCFA on February 27 from 12 noon, would highlight Guyanese traditional Carnival traditions.

For further information on Jouvay Ayiti,
contact Marissa Brooks at 663-2222 or

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Edmund and Lil Hart, Stephen and Elsie Lee Heung... Power couples of T&T Mas’

Complimenting each other all the way in their mas-centred lives were the legendary power couples of mas—Edmund and Lil Hart and Stephen and Elsie Lee Heung.  Together they captured a total of ten Band of the Year titles, five a piece, between 1966 and 1988. They were also runners up on 12 occasions, the Lee Heungs seven and the Harts five times.  In both the King of the Bands and Queen of the Bands categories, the Lee Heungs captured the title six times while the Harts did so twice.  In total, these two power couples produced some 62 bands between 1961 and 1994.
Hart’s...oldest surviving Carnival band
Today, the oldest surviving Carnival band in Trinidad and Tobago, in the large band category, is Hart’s, a econd generation family organisation, that celebrated its 50th year of conceptualisation in 2010. The evolution into thousands of masqueraders from a small band of 140 in 1961, the Hart’s Carnival Band, started by Edmund and Lil Hart, following stints after moving from San Fernando with Harold Saldenah and Bobby Ammon, is truly a remarkable one in the history of Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival. 
Today, their children have firmly taken control of their parent’s legacy and those children, Louis, Gerald, Thais, Aixa and Karen, have kept the Hart’s carnival flag flying high. “Fun in Mas” continues to be the motto of the popular band that passed to the current generation in 1993. The revered founding father of the legendary mas dynasty, Edmund, is still around in his late 80s to offer advice but it is his children who carry the mantle nowadays. Lil Hart died in 1991.
It didn’t take the newly-formed group decades ago to capture their first title with the portrayal “Playing Cards” in 1966 to be followed by four other titles with presentations “Inferno” (1970), “Mas Sweet Mas” (1983), “Islands in the Sun” (1986) and “Out of this World” (1988). During the heyday of their reign, in 1973, Edmund Hart received the Humming Bird Gold Medal for his contribution to Carnival development. 
His wife Lil hart is credited as being the designer who took the traditions of historical depictions into the realm of the more imaginative. For their 50th year conceptualisation celebrations, the children of Edmund and Lil Hart chose to revisit their past and honour their parents in 2010 by portraying the band titles over the years with sections within the band named after such themes as “Brazilian Fiesta” and Latin Fire,” “Oriental Fantasy and Utopia” and “Persian Empire and Mesopotamia.”  The band saw many of the masqueraders of the past returning to take part in the celebrations along with their children, grandchildren and even some great grandchildren.
Lee Heung’s hat-trick
Recently turned 90, Stephen Lee Heung, like Edmund Hart, began playing mas with Harold Saldenah in the early 1950s. Together with wife Elsie Lee Heung they won the Band-of- the-Year title five times (1967, 1975, 1976, 1977, and 1983) including the hat trick. From 1964 to 1975, Lee Heung’s bands were designed by Carlisle Chang, in 1976 Peter Minshall designed “Paradise Lost” and in 1977, Tedder Eustace designed “Cosmic Aura.” Woodbrook, like so many of the bands of today, including Harts, was the base for their popular mas camp.
As a young man Stephen Lee Heung brought out his first band in 1946 from San Juan, Two Ten Carmen, featuring Egyptian costumes. Siam was next and in 1948, Lee Heung’s wife, sisters and female friends introduced women to the streets, in The House of Hanoverians. China, the Forbidden City, their first Band of the Year title in 1967 was a spectacular display of the temples, gardens and animal life of China and was the only carnival band to have been used on a postage stamp. 
They won again in 1975 for the portrayal We Kind Ah People in which Chang celebrated the various cultures of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Chang’s themes reflected the world’s artistic traditions: Japan, Crete, Central America, Russia and Arabia. China the Forbidden City was the first band sent abroad by the government to the Montreal Expo in 1967, and then on to Toronto’s Caribana.  We Kind Of People was sent to the Dallas Trade Fair in 1975.
Elsie Lee Heung was twice crowned Queen of the Bands, in 1968 winning with “Honey of the Polynesians” and in 1983 with “Diana, Goddess of the Hunt.” In 1975 Stephen Lee Heung received the Humming Bird Medal Gold for his driving force in the Carnival arena.
hart’s presentations
1961—This Was Greece
1962—Flagwavers of Siena
1963—The Etruscans
1964—The Maya
1965—Mesopotamia BC
1966—Playing Cards
1967—Oriental Fantasy
1968—Brazilian Fiesta
1969—Life in the Waters
1971—Butterflies and Moths
1972—Four Seasons
1973—A Medieval Dream
1976—The American Indians
1977—Tribute to Broadway
1978—Adventure on the High Seas
1979—Faces and Places
1980—Reflections of Childhood Days
1981—Let’s Make Waves
1982—Anthony and Cleopatra
1983—Mas Sweet Mas
1985—Time for A Tale
1986—Islands in the Sun
1987—Local Sights and Delights
1988—Out of This World
1990—The Witches Brew
1991—Come Leh We Dance
lee heung’s presentations
The presentations
1964—Japan-Land of the Kabuki
1965—Les Fetes Galantes Des Versailles
1967—China, The Forbidden City
1968—Primeval- The Rites of Spring
1969—1001 Nights
1970—Conquest of Space
1972—Russian Fairy Tales
1973—East of Java
1974—Terra Firma
1975—We Kind A People
1976—Paradise Lost
1977—Cosmic Aura
1978—Love Is...
1979—Hocus Pocus
1980—The Bermuda Triangle
1982—Victory at Trafalgar
1983—Rain Forest
1987—Cocoyea Village
1989—Pow Wow
1991—Toute Bagai
1992—Columbus 1492-1992
Source: Nasser Khan



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