Leeds Castle in Kent celebrated its 900th anniversary in 2019, with a spectacular promenade event called the Carnival of History. As one of three local artists working on the project, I designed costumes and props for the parade that represented elements of the castle’s history through the 11th/12th, 14th and 20th centuries. In workshops with local groups, schools and families, we made over 100 themed costumes for these centuries with monks, pigs, wolves, Queen Isabella of France, fleur de lys, and peacocks featuring in the designs.
The work I do at INTRA was key to my involvement on the project, as along with fellow artists on the project Wendy Daws of the Mess Room and Päivi Seppälä of LV21, our existing relationships with local people and experience in designing workshop activities meant we could quickly build substantial community engagement both in creative activities leading up to the event, and in the parade itself.
Shademakers shared their expertise on prop-making and large scale carnival costumes with the three local artists on the project, and we helped them to support film and theatre design students from UCA Rochester in their work experience placements as they created costumes to lead each century.
On the day of the Carnival of History event, we matched up hundreds of costumes and props with our parade participants, and helped them to assemble for the finale parade of around a thousand people.
It was an impressive celebration event, involving many exciting performers and cultural partners. You can get a good sense of the scale of it from this video, from the Carnival Of History producers Rosa Productions.