All About SUNSHINE – Carnival & Community Arts
S.i.A is one of the leading artistic, educational and carnival production companies in the UK. Based in south London S.i.A works extensively within its local community but also on a national and international level.
At a local level the company develops and delivers arts events and cultural projects alongside local council minority groups, low income communities, play-schemes, youth groups, arts organisations, older people’s groups, regeneration agencies, the voluntary sector and educational establishments.
Our mission is to deliver high quality carnivals and arts projects, helping to inform and educate the community, young people and the public about the ‘art of carnival’.
S.i.A also serves as a platform for carnival arts and artists to develop and grow and we are committed to continuing this practice to the highest standard possible.
The company enables emerging local artists and arts organizations/ groups across all disciplines to access affordable space and opportunities through cultural exchanges and collaborative projects.
The company runs C.A.F.E ‘Carnival-Arts-For-Everyone’ an arts-orientated community centre based in the heart of Loughborough Junction Brixton. C.A.F.E. is an imaginative and creative space that is a meeting point for South London’s arts and carnival community and a source of affordable spaces for hire. C.A.F.E offers a range of carnival, community, food and arts activities.
Carnival is the company’s main focus and S.i.A is proud of the culture and heritage of carnival. The desire is to teach and pass on knowledge to the wider and new community, helping them to engage with the culture and embrace it as part of the modern British culture. The company supplies the artistic direction for a wide range of projects from single commissions to some of the England’s largest festivals. This involves planning, production, educational programmes, and engaging different arts, artists and performance in our work. We are committed to building long-term relationships that empower those we work with, which will help to create the foundations for a legacy in carnival arts.
Drawing on his Indo Caribbean roots, Ray Mahabir has used his experience gained by working with the masquerade tradition of Trinidad Carnival as inspiration for his designs for costumes used in processional art. From single commissioned pieces to large-scale community arts projects, he has the practical experience to bring designs to reality. With a rich cultural background he has worked as the artistic director for S.i.A, as a workshop facilitator, a costume designer, and as a consultant for art organisations for both street and theatre designs throughout England and internationally, helping to set up and run their arts projects.
S.i.A’s vision is to create work that is the haute couture of carnival arts, which is challenging in its vision and content.
What else do we offer?
- Assessment and evaluation of carnival projects
- Lecturers and Tutors for Carnival course at any age level
- Design consultancy and tutoring with schools and special units for community art projects
- Corporate/ Private design consultancy
- Designer/Production manager
- Project artist/ budget management
- Studio and workshop spaces
Major Carnival Productions
NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL
2008 “MaMa Look aH Mas” S.i.A’s first adult band is launched
2009 THE PEOPLE WHO CAME …dawn ‘we lan’
2010 METAMORPHOSIS ‘De ever changing world’ (2010) Activities were documented as part of a BBC documentary and showed in winter 2010 on BBC2 and as part of the BBC Natural History Unit
2011 DE MELTING POT …a marriage of a mas culture
2012 PARADISE …Forest of Dreams and Identity
2013 J’OUVERT: Dawn of Hells Angels
2014 SEA OF HUMANITY…
2015 OIL SLICK OIL SLICK “between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea”
2016 ALL AH WE AH ONE First overall prize for Children’s Day and First prize in medium contemporary category on Adults’ Day. Costume featured in BBC advert for #BlackandBritish season
2017 …LOVE… The Death of Carnival… Exit stage to the Left
2018 Dance of JOUVERT Second prize in our category for Children’s Day, and fifth in our section for Adult’s day
2019 Mascycle Second prize on children’s day
LIVERPOOL INTERNATIONAL STREET CARNIVAL
2009/11 Directing and evaluating international carnival productions in Taiwan, Germany, Greece, Istanbul, Bethlehem and Egypt.
2003-2016 Ray Mahabir is Artistic Director at Brouhaha International Street Festival, working with forty cultural, community and educational organizations locally and working in eight cities creating 1500 costumes for the day’s procession. The project also includes 25 International performance companies who create the opening piece of the procession. This is the single largest carnival costume band in the UK. S.i.A.’s role is to develop all aspects of design, workshops and to co-ordinate the carnival procession.
SOUTHWARK YOUTH CARNIVAL CLUB
2000-08 S.i.A founds Southwark Youth Carnival Club; working with young people to create and develop their concept and vision of carnival into processional and performance based work.
Young people get the opportunity to learn skills such as dance, makeup, stilt walking, music, costume making and designing. National touring allows young people from Southwark the opportunity to travel to different cities and take part in major carnivals and festivals in the UK.
2004 Working with Keylemanjahro stilt walkers from Trinidad, S.i.A develops its first youth/children stilt walking and carnival costume section for Peckham Youth Carnival and Notting Hill Carnival supported by the Arts Council England.
INTERNATIONAL CHARITY PROJECTS
Mulana India Project
At present, S.i.A’s main established international work is our Mulana project in India. Connections in India were built over many years by the Artistic Director, and are strengthened by his indo-caribbean heritage.
The work here involves supporting under-represented female artisans in the village of Mulana, helping them realise, and build upon, their creative potential and bringing them much-needed fairtrade through our skill development initiative. S.i.A has worked in the villages since 2001 to support the artisans, and has seen first-hand the development of self-confidence in the women and their work.
Using simple teaching methods and basic everyday knowledge that we take for granted, S.i.A has been disseminating this information never seen before by the villagers. As a result these women become increasingly independent and self-sufficient.
Working with the women artisans and the children in the village of Mulana use our skills to assist in the development of their craft. Crafts created here are then sold in our community centre and funds raised goes back again to the project and these women.
Reach The Unreachable Kenya Project
S.i.A has expanded it’s international partnerships in it’s project based in Kenya, Africa. This area seemed like a natural progression for the company as the history of carnival and it’s primary narrative involved Africa and the Caribbean. Providing carnival projects in Kenya brings carnival back to it’s roots.
S.i.A collaborates with Necessary Arts to run a Trinidadian mini Mas Camp and deliver carnival workshops to children in the Bofa community in Kenya. The first stage of this was to offer young people in the community the chance to take part in their own Mas Camp and creative activities.
Through all of our international outreach projects, S.i.A’s works to support young artists, inspire creativity, empower those who may have been overlooked, and spread the rich history of carnival.
Partnerships and Other Achievements
2019 Commissioned by Norwich Council to create Recycled Art and Carnival with Student’s for the Lord Mayor’s Parade.
2015- 2016 British Library commission of Belle costume, displayed at West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song exhibition.
2001-2010 Victoria and Albert Museum- Providing carnival art work for display in exhibition ‘40 years of Notting Hill’. Yearly carnival workshops for the Learning & Interpretation/Education and Adults Division department.
2007 New Liverpool International Slavery Museum- Creation of Fancy Sailor costume for permanent display.
2006-07 Southwark College (London) – Tutor for adult course in Floats Design and Construction. Designing and creating Floats with students which were used in Carnival Del Pablo and Lord Mayor Parade (London).
2006 Natural History Museum – Working with young adults in West London and artisans in India to create 3 large wall hangings. Exhibited also in New Zealand.
2003 Kinetika – Din Shuru touring project 2003. Associate designer/ Production Manager/ Costume artist working in London, Leicester and Isle of Wight
2002 Hope Street Ltd, Liverpool. Five week community carnival project working with local people to create 150 costumes.