Maureen Scarlett, Luton Association of Mas


Morcea Walker & Myrle Roach – Carnival Conference March 2013

Here’s One We Made Earlier. The 2nd Carnival Archive Conference March 15th and 16th 2013

Maureen Scarlett, Luton Association of Mas

Maureen Scarlett Transcript (Click to read/hide)

Hilary Carty:

I’d just like to welcome to the stage Maureen Scarlett from the Luton Association of MAS, and she’s going to tell us a little bit about the work that they’ve been doing.

Maureen Scarlett:

I’m with the Luton Association of MAS, but our group that’s actually in Luton Association of MAS is Luton Sickle Cell & Thalassemia Care Forum, we’re one of about eight groups up that make up the Luton Association of MAS.

What I actually wanted to do was to take you through our journey of adding to the Carnival Archive. When they said, ‘have you got any pictures?’ like many of you said you think you’ve got pictures here and there. We’re relatively newbies actually to the Carnival, we’ve only been involved I thought since 2005, but what I realised is that we actually had a stall in the town centre before this, before we actually got into wearing the costumes. I have a picture of my daughter in her pushchair at 5 months old, and she’s now 16, so she’s been involved from being in the pushchair on the stall to actually wearing a costume. She’s now actually doing GSCE art, doing carnival and movement, so she’s actually followed it right through.

Just a quick journey, this is our first effort at carnival [ slide ]. We just had a van that we decorated, so we did start small. We just had posters on the van and we just wore a t-shirt, so we weren’t too ambitious, but we actually took part. The group is actually a registered charity and it’s a way of collecting funds for the group, the work that we actually do with the group. This is the first effort we started with, just a van and a group of us, nothing fancy, no feathers.

We realised the kids, with all their cameras then, were taking lots of pictures and it’s all about actually being involved. It’s getting families involved, nobody’s too small to take part in the actual carnival, so this is a little girl [ slide ] I think she was about 3 or 4 at the time taking part.

It’s not all easy [ slide ], you do need a chair sometimes to sit down. There’s a lot of sitting around and a lot of waiting.

Little butterfly costume [ slide ], everybody has to wear a costume for the carnival, lots of different colours. Trying to get the boys involved, like many of the groups around there are lots of girls that want to do carnival, but trying to pick a theme that you can actually involve the boys in, so this year we were butterflies for the girls and the boys were the butterfly catchers.

That’s me [ slide ]. I don’t know if I’m wearing the costume or the costume’s wearing me then, because the wind is blowing all the costumes.

This is just our progression through, you start to make bigger, diverse, better costumes, but we still left from the same house every year [ slide ], so this is our journey, you left from the same house, this is where your carnival day started.

We went on just to do tabards, but it’s also a journey of those who actually take part in the carnival, because many of those who actually take part may have the disorder sickle cell, and the weather can actually cause them to have a sickle cell crisis, which is intense pain. It’s about involving the whole group, to say, ‘you can be involved in carnival whether it’s sunny, whether it’s raining’, you just wear your leggings and t-shirt, your tracksuit and everything else, and then you put your costume on so you stay warm, it’s inclusive of a group, and that’s part of our ethos of being involved in carnival, that everybody can take part, you’re not excluded from anything.

It’s also remembering some of our group, because some of them aren’t with us now, so looking back they took part in carnival, they weren’t excluded from it, they actually enjoyed what they got involved in. That [ slide ] was a picture that appeared in the local paper.

There are always rewards at the end: This was in 2010 when we won Best in Carnival and Best Youth Group, it’s nice for the children to know at the end of it that there may be something that their efforts are rewarded for.

This was 2007 [ slide ] when we had the rain. We didn’t have the carnival in May we had it in September, it was just held in the park, and it was mainly a children’s’ carnival. Those are my two children who will probably be mortified that I’m showing everybody their picture when they’re that young, but this just involved the young people, and that year the stand wore the adult costume, it didn’t make it out because it was too wet.

We won an achievement [ slide ], so this is done with the Mayor; we won an achievement certificate plate for that year, so that’s the young children with the Mayor for that year.

It’s also about showing you that as we’ve gone on we’ve realised we’ve taken lots of pictures, and this is about actually making the costume as well. I showed someone in my workplace me in the final costume, and then I showed her this [ slide ] and she said, ‘oh you actually made the costume?’, and I said, ‘yes we made it from scratch, from building the actual frame to fitting, to actually putting all the netting, all the feathers were put on individually’, that space was of a premium, it was in the corridor out here that we were making the costumes. You actually have to go from scratch in making; you don’t buy it as a ready package.

That’s another wet carnival [ slide ], but we still took part.

That’s 2010 [ slide ], some of the costumes were done for when Prince Edward came to open the Centre, the white peacock costume, that’s the final effort of all those nettings and everything that was done for when it opened. We had red and yellow peacocks and we also had blue and green peacocks as well.

That’s [ slide ] to show that although you may make the costume to wear a certain way, sometimes the girls take artistic licence and decide they want to wear it how they actually want to wear it, so what you have on paper, what you’ve set out from one venue with isn’t what you end up when you’re actually travelling on the road.

Again, going back to the actual structure of making the structure, [ slide ], it’s archiving our journey through making the costumes, from being in the carnival but also making the costumes from scratch, the gluing, the sticking, from going home from another wet day, you can’t always work outside.

It’s our journey. It’s lots of glue, lots of sticking, but it’s also lots of fun and you watch your group develop.

This was last year < slide>. We as a group were the Luton Group of the Carnival Crossroads Project, we were part of the Luton hub, so this is us actually making the costumes right through to the end, when I wore the Queen costume for Luton Carnival for the eastbound hub and the children took part. Last minute nails on the road, painting your nails, there’s always that last minute bit, and these are the girls that actually took part, so we’re the front of the hundred that took part in Luton.

That’s back to the beginning with us where we started [ slide ].

Hilary Carty:

Thank you very much Maureen. There you have another example of a group starting from fairly humble, I’d say, beginnings, just energy, enthusiasm and a desire to participate. I love that first photo of just the van.

Maureen Scarlett:

Yes it was just the van, laminated posters and that was it, a few balloons tied along the van and a few t-shirts, that’s how we started with a van.

Hilary Carty:

Then you look at her now as Carnival Queen.

Maureen Scarlett:

I would just say that it’s also a journey for those taking part. You watch yourself grow fatter and fatter [ laughter ], and then you get to that picture and you say, ‘no’, it’s more an archive of your weight!


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