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Carnival is now officially British

Wednesday, January 13, 2016
The costume designed by Clary Salandy, bottom right, as it looks as a page in the new British passport.

A carnival costume designed by London-based Trinidadian costume and set designer Clary Salandy features in the new British passport.

The UK launches a new passport every five years with updated security and anti-forgery features. The newest is focused on British success in art, culture, innovation, architecture and performance over the last 500 years. 

A release said the costume is one of the designs for the band Anthem that celebrated 50 years of T&T Independence and won the 2012 Notting Hill Carnival Band of the Year title.  

Mahogany, led by Clary Salandy and Michael Ramdeen, has been winning the annual competition interruptedly for most of the last few years and has been in existence since 1989. 

Ramdeen heads the costume making side of the well-established Mahogany, while Salandy designs for the band and for theatre. 

In 2014 she was awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth for her services to the arts in Britain. 

She is also Artistic Director of the UK Centre for Carnival Arts, established to promote the development of the creative Carnival Arts in the UK.

According to the designer, “it was a half-hour photo shoot outside our workshop and we had no idea if it would be included.” 

She sees it as recognition of the contribution Carnival has made to British culture, “it is a triumph for the Caribbean community.”  Mahogany is a year-round arts production company designing and manufacturing costumes for international festivals, carnivals and companies but is based in the community and operates an active outreach programme.

The Notting Hill Carnival, started in the once run-down part of West London by Trinidadian and other immigrants in the 1960s, has endured much over its 50-year history, with several attempts to shut it down, change its nature, move the route, reinvent its management and tarnish its appeal by negative representations in the media and by heavy-handed policing. 

However, the event has overcome all obstacles to become the biggest street festival in Europe with bands from many different ethnic groups and countries taking part in the two-day festival celebrated on the public holiday of August 31. 

Examples of other British design featured in the new UK passport in which a watermark of Shakespeare’s image appears on every page are the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye, portraits and works from painter John Constable, longitude clock inventor John Harrison, architect Giles Gilbert Scott, mathematician Charles Babbage, the Stephenson rocket, designed by George and Robert Stephenson, works of art by Anthony Gormley and Anish Kapoor, and many more examples of “pioneering work in the creative industries”.