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Age is no barrier to Nottingham's carnival celebrations

  • Date: 8 August 2014
  • Area: Midlands
Tony Mason puppet making with City Arts

Older people from across Nottingham are helping to design, create and decorate floats for the Nottingham Carnival as part of projects being run by Arts Council England’s National Portfolio organisation, City Arts, and AgeUK Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

City Arts is one of four organisations across England to be awarded funding from Arts Council England and the Baring Foundation to create opportunities for older people in care to experience and enjoy art and culture.

As part of its Imagine Programme for Older People, City Arts works with residential care homes across the county, using the arts to enrich the lives of elderly residents, involving them in the wider community and connecting them with people of all ages.

In the run up to the Nottingham Carnival on Sunday 17 August, City Arts has enlisted the help of artists Tony Mason and Nathan Bainbridge, and teamed up with AgeUK Notts, to get older residents involved in the celebrations.

In 2012, puppet maker Tony Mason created the two giant lions that led the Team GB Olympic winners’ parade. Now, he is crafting a giant bird puppet for the Nottingham carnival, drawing inspiration from stories, memories and experiences shared during visits to Abbeyfield’s Millbeck House, Nottinghamshire Hospice and Radford Care Group.

Supported by artist Jessica Kemp, older people from the three care centres will help create the birds’ feathers, which will be decorated with their messages and portraits.

“Too often older people are excluded from public life and our City’s major events. This year City Arts’ Carnival Troupe will address that imbalance, bringing the contribution of Nottingham’s elders to the fore,” said Kate Duncan, Creative Programmes Manager, City Arts.

Men from AgeUK Notts’ Men in Sheds group are also getting involved with the carnival by constructing two snail shaped floats built around shopping trolleys with Nottingham based graffiti artist and designer Nathan Bainbridge (aka SmallKid).

“Men in Sheds aims to bring older men together and encourages them to put their practical skills to good use and to be more socially active,” said Di Trinder, Assistant Chief Executive at Age UK Notts.

“We’re thrilled to be working with City Arts and Nathan Bainbridge. This intergenerational project will certainly provide them with a new challenge. Working together with other local community groups on a project for the Nottingham Carnival allows Men in Sheds to benefit the wider community in a unique way.

“The Men in Sheds project has gone from strength to strength and we have opened our third shed this year. We urge any men who have an interest in meeting new people and working on practical projects to contact us.’’

As part of the float building project Nathan has given creative support and advice to the group, whilst they have brought their technical expertise to the construction of the snails.

“It has been a great project so far, from getting to know each other by drinking tea and discussing ideas to finally starting to see the project coming to life,” said Nathan Bainbridge, Artist.

“At each stage we have had to make changes and the input from different people in the group has been what will make this an interesting carnival float. The spray cans are now coming out and it is great to see some colour starting to bring the snails to life. I look forward to seeing them finished and bringing smiles to people’s faces out on the parade”.

It is not just the older generation that will contribute to City Arts’ Carnival Troupe, though. Working with The Renewal Trust, City Arts will also run workshops for young people from St Ann’s and Sneinton.

Local children will be taught how to operate the bird puppet and animate the snail floats alongside a series of sessions teaching youngsters Samba dance moves. Workshop participants will take part in the carnival parade.

Find out more

To get involved and take part in the Nottingham Carnival, visit the East Midland Caribbean Carnival Network's website