Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 19th 2013 Contents B2
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, July 19, 2013
From Page B1
In an interview with writer Les Slater, in
the August 2012 edition of Caribbean Life,
Minshall is quoted: "The incredible fancy
sailor---there is not a form quite like it any-
where on the planet. It is unique and indige-
nous to Trinidad ... If I feel empowered at
all from then to now, it is by the fancy
Suggesting that mas has depreciated
through the years, Minshall opined, "Car-
nival today is a perfect relection of our soci-
"It s all about beads and feathers, with
no substance. People say the boat is sinking
but at this point in time we d better get
ourselves some oxygen."
On his own origins, he explains,
"I was born during the war, and I guess
my parents were also at war. I emerged
from my mother s womb in Guyana and
came to Trinidad as a baby."
As a child and young man, Minshall was
your total Trini, attending Queen s Royal
College, before migrating to London to
attend the Central School of Art and Design.
A born masman, Minshall actually won
his first Carnival competition at 13 when
he portrayed an African witch doctor.
Subsequently, he set about transforming
the form and shape of T&T Carnival for
many years, first designing the winning
Humming Bird for his sister Sherry Ann
Guy, then winning the 1976 King of Carnival
title through Peter Samuel Jr with an awe-
some, never-seen-before portrayal titled
Minshall would repeat this feat many
times subsequently and who can forget
Samuel in Minshall s creations as Devil Ray
(1979); Midnight Robber (1980); The Sacred
and the Profane (1982); Man Crab (1983);
or, Callaloo Dancing Tic Tac Toe (1984).
Minshall created some of the most spec-
tacular costumes ever seen in T&T Carnival,
and street presentations over several years
were the reasons the populace turned out in
droves to watch mas. Bands like Danse Macabre
(1980); Papillon (1982); The River (1983);
Callaloo (1984); Rat Race (1986); Carnival is
Colour (1987); and, the hattrick-winning Hal-
lelujah (1995); Song of the Earth (1996); and
Tapestry (1997) left spectators dumbstruck,
with many a designer and bandleader copying
his concepts and constructions.
Minshall cringes when he sees our copycat
leaders and planners trying to emulate the
more developed metropole by constructing
huge buildings, some housing art galleries.
Believing that art in galleries was for Europe,
Minshall made the streets of Port-of-Spain
his canvas and his masqueraders his palette.
I have played mas from my teen years
with some of the best, beginning with Star-
lift steel orchestra, and including Wayne
Berkeley, Poison, Legends, Ronnie & Caro,
and Tribe, but my most unforgettable have
been the years I played with Minshall.
Playing a blue-painted jab molassie in
Noble Douglas s section in 1980, in Danse
Macabre, was the most liberating Carnival
I have ever spent, matched perhaps by 1982,
when I played in Papillon.
The River was a mind-blowing experience
as well and, having left Minsh, for a couple
character-winning portrayals with Berkeley,
I returned "home" and thoroughly enjoyed
playing in The Lost Tribe in 1999.
I cannot forget seeing hundreds of gaily-
coloured "butterflies" running through the
Queen s Park Savannah and covering the
I have so many mementoes from Minsh
that I have a mini Minshall museum at my
home, including a cloth from 1997 s Tap-
estry, an umbrella from 1998 s Red, and
numerous jerseys dating way back.
Two of the most remarkable, and cele-
brated creations of Minshall s lifetime were
his "dancing mobiles" Saga Boy and Tan
Tan, portrayed by Samuel and Alyson Brown.
These two characters were revolutionary
and were replicated by other artists at many
prestigious international cultural and sport-
Minshall was awarded a fellowship by
the Guggenheim Foundation in 1982 and
his genius and art have been admired glob-
ally, his talents hired in 1987, for the opening
ceremonies of the Pan-American Games,
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; in 1992, for the
opening ceremonies of the XXV Summer
Olympics, Barcelona, Spain; in 1994, for
the football World Cup Finals, Chicago, Illi-
nois, USA; in 1996, for the opening cere-
monies of the XXVI Summer Olympics,
Atlanta, Georgia, USA; and in 2002, for a
12-minute segment (Fire Within) at the
opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics
in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
For his work in the 2002 Salt Lake City
Winter Olympics, Minshall was awarded
an Emmy Award, by the Academy of Tel-
evision Arts and Sciences 54th Annual US
Primetime Emmy Awards, for "Outstanding
Costumes for A Variety or Music Pro-
T&T Carnival has been blessed with many
earthly deities, including Ammon, Bailey,
Saldenah, Lee Heung, Hart, Berkeley and
Mac Farlane, but Peter Minshall shines
brightly as a god of mas.
Minshall...a born masman
Minshall actually won his first
Carnival competition at 13
when he portrayed an African
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