Utopia Creative Arts – An interview with costume designer David Brown
Today I interview David Brown, the costume designer behind the Utopia theme for Notting Hill Carnival 2016.
Together with his wife Judith, he created the theme and will craft the costumes for the entire float.
The theme for Notting Hill Carnival 2016 is named “Medusa, the Untold Truth”.
Why choose a creature from the ancient Greek mythology?
We participate in the Notting Hill Carnival with with other bands and for instance will be [on the road] with UCOM on Sunday and Lagniappe on Monday.
UCOM theme this year was “MythOdyssey” a mythological theme. So I decided to tie into that, in a small part. I chose Medusa as the main character for my section.
As we collaborate with other bands, we use the same general theme, through different angles.
In the Greek Mythology, Medusa was a monster, she had the face of an ugly woman with snakes instead of hair; Anyone who looked into her eyes was immediately turned to stone. Why choose her as the main character of your theme?
Medusa’s blood was also used to reincarnate things and people. Her blood had refreshing and revitalising properties.
Instead of thinking of Medusa as purely evil and destructive, I decided to focus on the goodness in her. Hence the theme name: “The Untold Truth”.
We have three sections:
The Eye of Medusa; a darkish theme, with purples and darks, dark pinks silvers, reminiscing the depth of the eye of Medusa.
The Curse of Medusa; since the curse of Medusa was to turn people into stones, we have a combination of greys, white, turquoise and light blue. I couldn’t create just grey costumes for the carnival, they needed to be ‘combined’ with other more vivacious colours.
The Blood of Medusa; there’s a strong deep red flowing through that costume, and it sprinkles out into variations of pink. I’ve used a strong bloodstone red to get that effect.
What do you have in mind for the launch itself?
We normally have a few performers, singers, dancers.
We’ll have the same pan player as last year, she is a singer as well.
And then we’ll present all three sections.
How many costumes will you have on the road?
We’re not huge, but we have a nice bunch of people.
All carnival costumes are crafted in-house with a group of helpers, mainly friends living in the [Bedfordshire] area, where we are based.
On Children’s day, (Carnival Sunday) we’ll have about 40 costumes, and probably about the same number on Carnival Monday.
Each year we’re getting bigger, so we try and cater for as many people as possible.
Our followers are mainly London based. Friends and family. People we’ve come to know along the way. We cater for children’s costumes as well, which makes us stand out a bit. Not many band do that nowadays. When we grew up in Carnival, it was always a family affair, so we try to keep this tradition going.
Don’t miss the Utopia band launch, on 30th April 2016.