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Saturday, 24 July 2010

Caribana Art Exhibit on now at the ROM

Couple created 14-foot Caribana costume as part of exhibit

Walk into the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) these days and front and centre, in Chen Crystal Court, is a massive 18-feet wide by 14-feet tall costume straight out of Caribana.
The piece, which is created by Clarence and Jackie Forde, is featured in From the Soul: Caribana Art Exhibit, which runs at the ROM until Aug. 3.
Caribana Art Exhibit on now at the ROM. Clarence and Jackie Forde and their mas art costume creation are featured in the largest juried display of African Canadian art, which is being presented at the ROM during Caribana. Staff photo/ERIN HATFIELD

Creating Caribana costumes is an art form for the undisciplined who are willing to challenge the system and create way outside of the box, Clarence said.
Clarence was literally born into the craft, he said. A native of Trinidad, Clarence was raised in a mas yard.
"In Trinidad terms, wherever they make the costume they call it a mas yard," he explained. "I was literally born in it because I was born at home."
Even though he came from a strongly religious family that tried to deter him from getting into the trade, Clarence said he broke away because he has a deep appreciation for the art.
"I like the glitter and the splendor and the glory," Clarence said. "I don't really like to play it, but I like to build it."
Made of a frame and deep-sea fishing rods, the centre of gravity must be in the middle so that the person who plays the costume can bounce it off their hips as they dance along the parade route.
"Clarence is very good with the structure and he does all the welding," Jackie said.
It is a feat of engineering as much as art.
Jackie and Clarence Forde, from Scarborough, operate Cajuca Mas Arts Producers.
"I'm the mas, she is the art," Clarence said. "I can do the mechanical work because I am a millwright by trade, to put everything that is needed together and she can do the art and design."
"Sometimes we get in some divorce-level fights because she designs something and doesn't understand I cannot do it," Clarence joked with a laugh.
"But I want it," Jackie chimed in with a laugh.
Jackie, who has a degree in fine arts, was enlisted to draw for a mask-making team that Clarence was on.
"I was asked to come and draw for Clarence and a now-deceased band leader called Wallace Alexander because the two of them couldn't get their ideas across to the other members," Jackie said. "Over the years I got more and more involved in actually making the costumes."
The From the Soul: Caribana Art Exhibit represents the largest single juried display of works of art by African-Canadian artists. Curated by renowned African-Canadian artist and activist Joan Butterfield, the exhibition is produced by the Association of African Canadian Artists, in conjunction with Scotiabank Caribana and the ROM.
Butterfield, who splits her time between her home in Brampton and her condo in Liberty Village, came to Canada in the 1960s from her native Bermuda. She has been an artist and curator for more than 20 years in Canada and the United States. She is also the art director at the Association of African Canadian Artists and sits on the board of directors for Caribana.
There are 50 artists from all over Canada participating in the exhibit this year.
"Normally because of the space, in previous years, it would only allow for paintings on canvas," she said. "This year they have given me the Bronfman Hall, which is 7,000 square feet."
The exhibit has expanded its territory, so to speak. There are more than 100 works, mostly still canvas, but there are also several Caribana parade costumes, 3D bronze sculptures and award-winning ceramic pieces.
"Once you walk into the exhibit it is going to arouse your consciousness and I hope steal your mind and sooth your soul," Butterfield said.
"What you are going to see is the artists bring their history, their struggles," she said. "You are going to learn about us as a people and I am hoping that we can have a better understanding of what we are about."
SOURCE
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Caribana Art Exhibit on now at the ROM

Couple created 14-foot Caribana costume as part of exhibit

Walk into the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) these days and front and centre, in Chen Crystal Court, is a massive 18-feet wide by 14-feet tall costume straight out of Caribana.
The piece, which is created by Clarence and Jackie Forde, is featured in From the Soul: Caribana Art Exhibit, which runs at the ROM until Aug. 3.
Caribana Art Exhibit on now at the ROM. Clarence and Jackie Forde and their mas art costume creation are featured in the largest juried display of African Canadian art, which is being presented at the ROM during Caribana. Staff photo/ERIN HATFIELD

Creating Caribana costumes is an art form for the undisciplined who are willing to challenge the system and create way outside of the box, Clarence said.
Clarence was literally born into the craft, he said. A native of Trinidad, Clarence was raised in a mas yard.
"In Trinidad terms, wherever they make the costume they call it a mas yard," he explained. "I was literally born in it because I was born at home."
Even though he came from a strongly religious family that tried to deter him from getting into the trade, Clarence said he broke away because he has a deep appreciation for the art.
"I like the glitter and the splendor and the glory," Clarence said. "I don't really like to play it, but I like to build it."
Made of a frame and deep-sea fishing rods, the centre of gravity must be in the middle so that the person who plays the costume can bounce it off their hips as they dance along the parade route.
"Clarence is very good with the structure and he does all the welding," Jackie said.
It is a feat of engineering as much as art.
Jackie and Clarence Forde, from Scarborough, operate Cajuca Mas Arts Producers.
"I'm the mas, she is the art," Clarence said. "I can do the mechanical work because I am a millwright by trade, to put everything that is needed together and she can do the art and design."
"Sometimes we get in some divorce-level fights because she designs something and doesn't understand I cannot do it," Clarence joked with a laugh.
"But I want it," Jackie chimed in with a laugh.
Jackie, who has a degree in fine arts, was enlisted to draw for a mask-making team that Clarence was on.
"I was asked to come and draw for Clarence and a now-deceased band leader called Wallace Alexander because the two of them couldn't get their ideas across to the other members," Jackie said. "Over the years I got more and more involved in actually making the costumes."
The From the Soul: Caribana Art Exhibit represents the largest single juried display of works of art by African-Canadian artists. Curated by renowned African-Canadian artist and activist Joan Butterfield, the exhibition is produced by the Association of African Canadian Artists, in conjunction with Scotiabank Caribana and the ROM.
Butterfield, who splits her time between her home in Brampton and her condo in Liberty Village, came to Canada in the 1960s from her native Bermuda. She has been an artist and curator for more than 20 years in Canada and the United States. She is also the art director at the Association of African Canadian Artists and sits on the board of directors for Caribana.
There are 50 artists from all over Canada participating in the exhibit this year.
"Normally because of the space, in previous years, it would only allow for paintings on canvas," she said. "This year they have given me the Bronfman Hall, which is 7,000 square feet."
The exhibit has expanded its territory, so to speak. There are more than 100 works, mostly still canvas, but there are also several Caribana parade costumes, 3D bronze sculptures and award-winning ceramic pieces.
"Once you walk into the exhibit it is going to arouse your consciousness and I hope steal your mind and sooth your soul," Butterfield said.
"What you are going to see is the artists bring their history, their struggles," she said. "You are going to learn about us as a people and I am hoping that we can have a better understanding of what we are about."

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Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Every carnival is Trinidad Carnival

"We always respect the territory and its people by partnering with someone that already has something set up there. We will not seek to reap rewards in another person's country without having them be a part of the effort and whatever benefits result. We may be at Miami carnival in October and Japan before that. Once we have a good partner on the ground we will move into other destinations later on," Lewis said.
Tribe designed this costume titled
"Heaven to Earth" for Baje International.
Harts Mas Band purchasing manager, Annalise Hee Chung said the band has produced mas for carnivals in Jamaica, Antigua, Grenada and St Lucia before, but decided to sit these out this year and focus on Carnival 2011. She also said the mas camp needed renovations and updating and had they worked on foreign carnivals this would not have been done properly.
"This year we wanted to renovate the mas camp and prepare for 2011. The camp is in need of some personal attention and also the foreign carnivals cut into preparations for our launch. We just needed to breathe a bit and focus solely on Trinidad Carnival this time around and we will be returning to those destinations next year as we have maintained our relationships with them," Hee Chung said.
Mike "Big Mike" Antoine of Legacy Mas Band works with about 12 carnivals around the world including New York, London, Boston, Grenada, St Lucia, Toronto and St Maarten in various capacities from consultant and facilitator to designer and producer. At present he is working on production of the band Power X 4, which is presenting The Bajan Reef for Crop Over. Antoine said Trinidad provides to carnivals around the world every skill and service one can imagine, but does not receive the credit.
"Most of the time the outside world, except Brazil, patterns their carnivals after us and come here to get the expertise. Even the Brazilians come here to pick up on the new technology. When it comes to variety such as children's mas and individuals we are second to none. You see those huge elaborate floats in Brazil yes, but when you come here you see men and women carrying massive costumes on their backs. Only we create these," Antoine said.
He said Trinidad needs to ensure that the carnivals taking place around the world are branded as originating in Trinidad and Tobago. He also believes the authorities here and stakeholders need to raise the bar if Trinidad is to continue attracting visitors for the festival. Among the things needed is a proper place to showcase the mas and other Carnival arts on a large scale and proper facilities and allowances so the media can effectively capture the Parade of the Bands and show it to the world.
"We really need to raise the bar by doing several things including having a proper venue for the Parade of the Bands and the other events. This thing about having people standing behind a chicken wire fence to see mas can't work. The media needs to be able to easily and effectively capture the parade so it can be shown to the world. For the past few years I have not been able to show videos of our mas to people abroad because we can't capture it well, the way it is now. Other carnivals like Barbados and Miami look much better,"
"Look at this. Barbados has all the fetes like Brian Lara Fete and Wet Fete now. They have very good costumes and a well thought out parade route. A Bajan living in the United States or Europe does not need to come here for Carnival because he can get it in Barbados along with the beaches, other attractions and the added bonus of being able to visit friends and family. And the same goes for people in other destinations," Antoine said.
Tribe Mas Band participates in its first foreign carnival when it presents a section titled Heaven to Earth in Baje International at Crop Over. Bandleader, Dean Ackin said Tribe was invited by Baje to participate and he does not actively pursue the production of mas in other territories. Akin said he does not intend to get involved with any other carnival in the near future.
"We were invited by Baje and have never actively pursued any foreign carnivals. Although we may work with Baje again we are going to continue focusing on Trinidad Carnival. We will continue to making sure we provide a good service and improve on that. We also want to bring visitors back to our shores for Carnival and other times during the year. Trinidad comes first then we will look abroad," Ackin said.
Wrenwick Brown of the National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) said producers of all carnivals approach the NCBA for assistance in producing their respective festivals, but generally the public in these countries have no idea that what they are enjoying comes from here. The NCBA sends experts in various fields to places around the world to conduct workshops, seminars and work with people in their production of carnival.
"Governments across the globe have recognised how carnival brings people together. They all have their own festivals, but love the style of Trinidad Carnival. We have worked with people in places like Nigeria, South Africa, Barbados to assist in producing their carnivals and our local bandleaders have relationships with bandleaders in London, Toronto, New York and other countries," Brown said.
As for what people out there want of Trinidad Carnival, Brown and the other bandleaders say for the most part they want the pretty mas including bikinis and beads. Around the world it's all about dancing through the streets in total abandon and being the centre of attention. There are, however, some who are interested in what is known as traditional mas such as the sailors, jab jabs, pierrot grenades and other characters.
"People don't really specifically come looking for the traditional mas. They want information on how to produce the entire carnival from setting up a mas camp to building a parade of bands. Nigeria for example is not interested in bikini and beads. They want to create costumes relevant to their cultural overtures. South Africa is interested in the finer elements of the mas-making craft. Everyone wants Trinidad Carnival now. What we must do is ensure the world knows every carnival is Trinidad Carnival," Brown said.

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Saturday, 10 July 2010

Inside the Skullduggery mas camp


Skullduggery Mas Camp Day One from Mark Lyndersay on Vimeo.
A quick panorama of the Skullduggery Mas camp on the evening of July 09, 2010, our first day of business for the band.

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