Ilovecarnivall attended the Guyana band launch for the UK branch over the weekend and it was a good launch. The main band launch was held in Guyana a couple of weeks ago and there were some really impressive costumes, one of which was Patricia Sawyer’s Bartica. This launch in the UK gave us a chance to have a look at it up close and personal.
Guyana has a cultural festival called Mashramani meaning ‘Celebration after hard work’ which has been going on for many years. However, this separate Guyana carnival had its debut last year. Patricia Sawyer has been designing on the carnival circuit in the UK for a couple of years now but this is the first time she has designed for a band in Guyana and I wondered about that. I had a chance to speak to her just before the costumes went out.
How did designing for Guyana happen? Well I went to Guyana on my own last year because it was a new carnival and I wanted to get an experience of it. I ended up playing in the band. I decided to go last minute and they were no costumes available. So of course your girl made her own costume and jumped in the band. I had an enjoyable time but felt that I wanted to be involved. There was no one I noticed was from the UK and from a designer perspective, I thought ‘Let me just see how I can tap myself into this’.
I met with Pulse, one of the entertainment companies out there and Hits and Jams, arranged a meeting and described my intentions. I don’t think they thought I was serious. Then I think they began to see some of my work. And that was it.
What is your aim with this section? Well the intention is to bring some of the UK masqueraders to Guyana carnival. Guyana is South America. It’s beautiful for eco tourism. It is not your Trinidad, it’s not your Barbados. But it is a place I think if you want to be in tune with nature, it is a place to go. So I would like people going to a different place to experience carnival.
Tell me a bit about this section Bartica. So initially Guyana’s theme is The Lost World. I did not want anything that was real, I wanted to look at fantasy. And I was looking at a book called The lost World of Zee and I wanted to use certain colors. I am always directed by colours first or I am inspired by nature or culture or folklore. But I wanted to use something that wasn’t really typical of me. I read this book about Europeans who went into the Amazon rainforest and saw what they shouldn’t have. I wanted to incorporated the colour green. I’ve never really used green. I think it is quite an exotic colour and I decided to look at the flowers, fauna to depict the rainforest. Guyana is also known for its gold so I wanted to put that in as well. The Guyana Team also wanted to depict towns as well in their themes. So this costume was chosen to depict Bartica. Each costume is connected to a town in Guyana.
How many people are you catering for? Well I am not producing. I am just designing and others are producing it.
What other bands are you designing for this year? Well believe it or not, Patricia is taking a sabbatical this year. I don’t know how this is going to come across but I don’t have to design every year. For me I like to take that time to step back, analyse what is going on, see what new trends are coming through, what do I need to do to modify my designs. It’s nice to sit back and enjoy everyone else’s costumes and not worry about my own.
The Guyana UK launch was held in Tooting, South London in a reasonable sized hall. It was well presented with decorated tables and a stage. There was a really good crowd of varied ages. Soca played to get the crowd warmed up for the launch with Supertrini as impromptu host.
Behind the scenes, things were quite calm for a launch. Make-up was being applied, costumes were being put on, pics were being taken. The team were very visible in their red t-shirts and were very friendly and accommodating. Some of the familiar media teams such as Trinis in London were visible. Patrick from the Guyana UK team kept strict time and due to this, the launch was not delayed.
It was a good launch for a Sunday evening. There was a family liming vibe, with food which went quite quickly. I went sometime just before the costumes were presented and most of it was gone, except the fish and bakes.
The costumes appeared to be very well received, especially the frontline. Patricia herself was quite surprised regarding the response although I don’t know why. The colours are very tropical and attractive. There are loads of feathers which most masqueraders love. The models displayed the costumes quite well. This costume is a bit of a departure from Patricia’s usual costume style. But I like seeing designers trying new ideas and stretching their creativity. Guyana is definitely on my list of carnivals to go to!
For more information, please visit Guyanacarnivaluk and guyanacarnival on Instagram