I make the skeleton and the bones behind the costumes. I’ve been doing this with Elimu since 2006. So at the moment I am focussing on individual costumes, section leaders, things that will probably involve a backpack, though not always, and various rods coming off the backpacks. So this year we’ve done King, Queen, Male Individual, and Junior King and Junior Queen.
You are trying to transform the performer into a creature or something else so you also have to transform as much of their kinetic movement as possible. From my perspective – how the body moves, how the nature of walking and parading down the road, that movement has to feed through into the whole of the structure, so lightness is extremely important to me, so the performer doesn’t feel it’s a hard task just to carry the thing, it’s got to be something they feel they can work with.
I do a lot of puppetry, I make a lot of puppets, - either the material, whether it’s a rod or fabric, whatever it is – has inherent movement when you move or shake it and that will cause certain ripples to go through the costume, sometimes from a puppetry point of view you have pivots,and hinges which means the movement of legs and arms can then make things move as well,whether its something that’s strung up or directly attached to you so on a giant puppet the legs might be attached to the feet of the performer and the performer might have rods that will go up to the hands. So often it’s taking small movements and letting them ripple out.
The first costume I made for Nolan was a very big ‘Midnight Robber’ puppet, I worked alongside a guy called Murphy who was from Peter Minshall’s band in Trinidad. It’s the only time I’ve had a costume fall over, someone was pushing a stand behind Nolan and he tripped over . Luckily he fell forward – its more dangerous to fall backwards, so we just had to help him on his feet again.
Last year I designed a costume which was a policemen, which I was very pleased with. I like to tap into the humour which comes with Trinidadian carnival – I like a bit of sarcasm and irony - and it seemed a good opportunity to display the positives and negatives associated with the police, but in a humourous way.
The weather is an interesting thing because I work in theatre as well, if you put a costume on a stage you can allow it to be itself, and every movement is controlled, but if you take it on the road and there is gale force wind, and it raining, then everything has to be tougher, and you might use certain fabrics that will soak up the water, and you might double the weight of your costume in one downpour.
This year we have quite a lot that comes in front of the performer, which is a bit unusual, which creates an interesting problem because with a backpack it’s quite easy to carry things on your back, but on the front you have to come round the front and find all kinds of angles to put things on.
I work on other carnivals, I work in the theatre making propos, costumes and puppets, I’ve done things for bands, and a few film projects.
I started making 3D things through carnival, through a different band, but when I left that band I felt I still wanted to stay working in the Notting Hill Carnival, so Elimu Paddington Arts has become a home for me carry on advancing myself.