Our fourth Featured Artist is Ray Mahabir, of Sunshine International Arts! Ray tells us about his 35 years as a Carnival designer, his inspirations and influences, and some of the differences in his approach to designing Mas for children and adults. Audio transcript below:
Hi, my name is Ray Mahabir. I’m the artistic director of Sunshine International Arts. We operate out of the art centre called CAFE, which stands for Carnival Arts for Everyone, based in Loughborough Junction, Brixton. This is also the home of the Mas band Sunshine. I’ve been involved in Carnival for the past 35 years. I started my career in Trinidad where I was a fashion designer. My work in Carnival started as a costume wearer, volunteer maker and now a designer. I now work nationally and internationally on Carnival projects, but the major showcase of my work is at Notting Hill Carnival. My early years of costume designing, I used textiles and traditional Caribbean Carnival characters as the medium in my design. My work has evolved over the years to cater for the younger generation and now you can see a mix of fashion, feathers, adornment, and traditional Caribbean costumes in my work. What inspires me to design? In my adult band I use everyday life stories – the political, social, and environmental issues. The environmental issues is something I’m very passionate about – our destruction of our world. But for my children’s band I have always used hope, as they are the next generation. I don’t look at my work in terms of a showstopper. My work in Carnival is about educating our audience. For me, Carnival is my history and my culture. As a Trinidadian Carnival is in my DNA, and everything I’m passionate about. Ray Mahabir, Sunshine International Arts.