CREATIVE SPACE

New series alert!

Covering local (i.e. Antiguan-Barbudan/Caribbean) art and culture. Opportunity for local businesses (and/or businesses servicing the Antiguan-Barbudan/Caribbean market) especially to support local art and culture by sponsoring a post. Contact me to find out more.

Meanwhile, it begins here.

Kanneh Mason
“The Kanneh-Masons, scions of Antigua and Barbuda’s expansive and influential musical Mason family, include siblings ranging in age from 8 to early 20s –  pianist Isata; violinists Braimah, Aminata, and Konya; and cellists Jeneba and Mariatu. Cellist Sheku, the only sibling to perform a solo during the event, is the BBC Young Musician of 2016 and, in January 2018, he released his debut recording, appropriately titled ‘Inspiration’.” – from CREATIVE SPACE 1 – Playing to Inspire 2. Read the full post, sponsored by Dianne’s Brokerage Services, here.

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“In the Caribbean, when it comes to history…it’s complicated (sugar’s success forever linked with the enslavement of Africans). But complicated as it is, the excavation of that history is necessary work. Several books – among them Keithlyn Smith’s To Shoot Hard Labour, Joy Lawrence’s series of village folk histories, the late Desmond Nicholson’s considerable work in to branches of that history from pre-Colombian documentation to the history of current place names – have been doing that work. Agnes Meeker’s book with Donald A. Dery, Plantations of Antigua: The Sweet Success of Sugar: A Biography of the Historic Plantations Which Made Antigua a Major Source of the World’s Early Sugar Supply, is the latest addition to this sub-genre of historical works about Antigua and Barbuda. Dery, an American who lives half the year in Antigua, asserts that there has been nothing like it.” – from CREATIVE SPACE 2 – Excavating History. Read the full post, sponsored by Joanne C. Hillhouse, here.

More to come. Want to sponsor a post? Contact me to find out more.

 

 

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Grace’s Merrymakers

It’s funny how quickly Carnival goes by. It’s like this two week alternate reality where everything else ceases to exist, and then, in a blink, back to reality. Within those two weeks there is pageantry, soca, calypso, pan, controversy, and, of course, mas including the epic Carnival Tuesday parade (all 10,000 plus steps of it). Carnival is mas, and mas is  an opportunity to showcase our creativity and that, the opportunity it provides to showcase our creativity, is the purpose of this post.

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With Grace – a Caribbean fairytale…and our pattern book.

See, I wrote a children’s picture book called With Grace (released last December), and the world of that story became the pattern that we drew from in crafting our mas – in great part because I wanted to see the tree faerie come to life.

tree faerie

The page I sent my friend before she even had a copy of the book to see if she thought we could do this. She did.

We had more elaborate plans to start but adjusted to our reality and are grateful that with the help of sponsors (shout out to Titi Rent-a-Car, Townhouse Mega Store, and Pink Mongoose), we were able to bring the tree faerie to Carnival City.

 

Graces Merry Makers

Grace’s Merrymakers.

In production

I’m not going to pretend that I had any hand in the actual building – I am rather lucky that my friends (Helena Jeffery Brown and Augusta Scotland Samuel) who do have experience with costume building were interested in taking on this project.

Material was bought 20170623_180341,

Wire was bent 20170610_17453520170610_135409,

Shapes were drawn 20170604_20525720170604_205301,

Fabric was cut 20170604_21191820170701_134735,

& Details were added 20170802_12502820170802_125822 (these are for the headpieces and standards – because we might not have had a mango tree like we’d hoped but the standards made for a good stand-in).

In their skilled hands (plus seamstress, Ms. Blaize, who sewed the tops they then decorated), it all came together20170802_125004.20170802_125037.

We had to do a product description for the stage and here’s some of what we said – “The fairy’s bodice is the colour of tree bark crisscrossed in green. Her skirt consists of green leaves, with stripes of gold, hanging from her body like leaves from a tree. Look closely, you’ll also see mango blossoms – between the fairy’s wings, pinned into her hair, and along the leaves making up her hand pieces. The fairy’s wings spread wide as she wakes, the orange pink hue of a ripening mango, made of bent wire in the tradition of Antiguan mas. Another feature of local mas, the standards – poles wrapped in leaves, in hues of green and gold – are the trees waving in the breeze. It’s mango season, Carnival season, a season of creativity in full bloom.”

On the Road

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After all that, we were only on the road on Carnival Tuesday (shout out to Just Friends, for being so welcoming to us on the road); on Carnival Monday, given our size, we  only crossed the stage. Shout out to our banner holders 20170807_155130…and our back-up banner holders.

With Grace

We were happy to have the opportunity to showcase what mas is about to us – not just fun (though it is always that), but the colour, spirit, and creative energy of our Antiguan and Barbudan people. As a writer, it made me happy to see a character I imagined (a character then illustrated by Cherise Harris and re-imagined by Jeffery) come to life as a part of one of my favourite events, Carnival, mas, Tuesday, the biggest live theatre event (for that’s how I’ve thought of our mas since I first witnessed it as a child). This year I also spied a smurfette and a mermaid (dope); so why not the mango tree faerie, a 100 Wadadli character. Again, thanks to our sponsors (Titi Rent-a-Car, Pink Mongoose, and Townhouse Mega Store) for supporting our vision – remember, support the businesses that support the arts.

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ABOUT THE BOOK: Grace, of Grace’s Peak, loves her hill, and her home above the village, above the whole island. All her trees are lush and full of ripe fruits, except for the one at the far end of her orchard.  She hates that tree.  So when the smiling, barefoot, girl from the village asks Grace if she can pick fruits to sell at the market, it is from that sad, bare tree that Grace “generously” allows her to pick. Little does Grace know that the young girl’s kind, generous heart and her sweet special song will make the impossible happen, and change life at Grace’s Peak forever.  Published by Little Bell Caribbean.

Also, for news on Antigua’s Carnival, go here.

ETA: Video and more pictures here.