I had a lot of fun working on the 2016 Lantern Parade for the Mossley Light Festival....it took a team effort to make it happen.
I was first invited to participate in September when the Vale Arts Centre
/ Cabasa / Global Grooves were putting a team together to build an exhibit with the regular wednesday 'Crafty Brew' club. The Crafty Brew club is aimed as older local residents in Mossley and provides a much needed drop in service, it encourages creativity as well as a place to meet others, drink tea and chat. Having made a lantern for last years parade, i was keen to be more involved in this years event and they needed help with installing the lighting, so I volunteered my technical services.
The overall theme was 'transformation' and we chose forms depicting the life cycle of the caterpillar > chrysalis > butterfly to make our structures. The sessions were led by Mike Green, a local artist and supported by Rowan Taylor who is an artist in residence at the Vale. Our first few weeks were spent helping to build 2 peacock costumes who were also for the parade, and this involved working with wire, textile and fibre glass rods. We then started with our creations, I needed the structures to at least be ready for papering before i could install the lights. We used willow withies for the framework and held together with masking tape. Then rice paper is coated with pva and applied to the framework which, as it dries - forms a tight membrane that is also light and easy to decorate.
My plan was to install at least 2 sets of programmable (pixel) LED strands in the caterpillars
and use sound reactive LED lighting, fairy lights and torches on the other structures.
I had been worried about how i would be able to provide a suitable lighting solution within the budget and time parameters. I discovered that I had a few items already that we could use and took to ebay to source the others. It's so tricky making the right choices on such a vast online marketplace and sadly i fell foul of one faulty (pixel) LED controller device that I bought and have had to return. In the end we had to resort to a contingency for one caterpillar using RGB strip, which worked fine but just made me wish that my e-tailer was instead a local store, so I could pop in and replace the other faulty item. This was my first year working at this level so now have a better insight into how the materials and more importantly size and shape play a part in the finished pieces.
It can seem like an awful lot of preparation goes into what essentially is only seen by the public for an hour or two. Here in lies the potency of carnival as throughout that whole building up process, skills have been learned, stories shared and friendships forged. As event manager Leon Patel told us during a training seminar "Creating carnival is a living process and the parade at the end is only a small part of it"
It's been good to work on this project and I'm looking forward to seeing what next year's event will bring.