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A Cardiff Masquerade Carnival headpiece on the theme of ‘Abolition 200’. The headpiece represents diamonds and gold. The body costume had diamond shapes and the red represented the blood.

The person who made the headpiece, told Cardiff Story Museum: “I have boxes and boxes of broken old jewellery and beads, so once I've decided the theme I put all of that into a box and start decorating it, building it up.

"It's about 40 hours work from scratch, because I spend a lot of time pattern making, once the patterns made, this is the bit I love [the decorating].
The group, called ‘Flamboyant’ is made up of 25 people ages 3 to 75 from Grangetown, Pentwyn, Penarth, all over Cardiff. In the group there are four ‘backpacks’ [the large frame costume]; everyone wears a headpiece. The others wear skirts, tops, might have props like brollies or standards. Boys this year were Masai warriors.

"I've got one lady, we buy the sequins on strip and we pick them off to make them go further, and I could give her a 500 and she’d sit there and unpick them, she loves it!

"My first year I did it was 6 years ago and I ended up wearing a backpack and the carnival was on my birthday. I can't explain it in words how it made me feel that day it's sometimes difficult to get people there but once they are there they don't want to go home, it's an amazing experience, amazing.

"They all help, a bit of sticking, gluing, painting, everyone joins in. At the moment it's just a couple of hours a week, it's all in the plotting and planning then after Christmas we sort of go full on then. We wouldn't do any of this without the support of SWICA.

"Friends of mine got me involved. That first year I went was their biggest mistake. It's like a carnival workshop my bedroom, a couple of months leading up to Carnival the whole house is, but my mum loves it. It's like bringing the Caribbean into Cardiff. My style is Trinidad, Trinidadian headpieces. I'm known as Mr Sequin so to speak. This year I ended up as a tobacco plant!

"The backpack has movement, you can move it, bounce it, swing it, you go out to the public and dance with them and they love it.
It definitely brings communities together, you go over and it's like meeting your family after a year. I've got lifelong friends over there.
I started off cake decorating, then floristry, then balloon decoration, presentation is my job. SWICA supply a lot of the stuff in terms of materials.

"Because everyone looks lovely, there's no backlash or anything like that.

"I try to leave staples showing, something, so people can see it, just to show the engineering side of it, so they can see it's not been mass produced. Even if I did 10 the same day they wouldn't come out the same.

"We do try and use things over and over, just do it in a different way.”

Source: Interview with Cardiff Story Museum 12/9/2007

Steve Fletcher founded SWICA (South Wales Intercultural Community Arts) in 1990. SWICA grew out of community plays (1986-1990) originally based in the Gujarat centre. In April 1990 two workshops were held, one of which was the first ever samba drumming workshop to be held in Wales. From this beginning, Steve created the Cardiff School of Samba. It was felt that Cardiff needed a free, participatory workshop-based carnival. The first South Wales International Carnival was held in August 1990. The last one was in 2014.

Cardiff Story Museum, CARCM: 2007.11

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