Sailors have danced through TT’s streets; some carrying rods, war ribbons and even papier-mâché headpieces. They have glided across many stages performing dancing styles such as the bote, crab, marrico, pachanga, rock de boat, skip jack and the camel walk.
Though historical in root, the sailor mas is not lost to history. Several steelbands continue to keep this revered portrayal alive. Massy All Stars won back-to-back Large Band of the Year in 2014 and 2015 with its vibrant sailor mas presentations.
The sailor mas was born out of the arrival of French, British and American naval ships to TT in the 1880s. The uniqueness of each group is seen in different types of portrayals. One need only look at the free French sailor, king sailor and fancy sailor to see the richness of TT’s creativity and its history.
It is this fascination with the sailor mas which led artist and framer Ashraph (Richard Ramcharan) to present his fancy sailor exhibition – A Sailor, is a sailor, is a sailor.
Ashraph told Newsday: “I am excited about this event. I just love the mas and I love the art!”
Interestingly, he has the support of some of the biggest names in artistry. Among them, watercolour specialist Jackie Hinkson, mas icon Peter Minshall, Dermot Louison who dabbles in oils, Paul Kain (Australia), highly-talented local artist Wendell Mc Shine, Che Lovelace, Parker Nicholas (USA) –known for his dead nose/flour bag sailor pieces, poet and artist Embah (Emheyo Bahabba) and Scottish painter Peter Doid.
The collection comprises a mix of watercolours, acrylics, collages and objects. Ashraph said the exhibition is a reflection of the work inspired by something to each of the artists. For instance, he said: “Hinkson goes out on the street for Carnival, sketch and then paint, Kain has some involvement in J’Ouvert, Paul is involved in Carnival, Mc Shine is a graphic artist, Embah was an intuitive artist, Parker did objects using dumb waiters, there are silk screen print by Doyle and I did mixed media on long nose sailor. We all make a little mas that is slightly different.” Minshall he said, is just one of the regular artists I ask to submit a piece. “He wasn’t working so it is great he actually did something for the show.”
The collection comprises all new pieces except a few from Embah who passed away last year and one Doyle piece from 2013.
Asked what inspired him to have this sort of exhibition, Ashraph said: “I am into the Carnival in a way, I love our traditional art form which is mas and also it is about the influence of the mas and the artists and the interpretation of the costumes and what is seen. I kind of like that so I decided to do a show with artists inspired by the mas.
“I collect art, I support local artists then I decided it was time for a change. I like the idea of creating a show and having a theme like A Sailor, is a sailor, is a sailor!”
Ashraph sees himself as someone with a space to showcase the art and wants the focus put more on local artists.
He also uses the opportunity to express himself via his Cat in Bag Productions Carnival band that comes out with placards on Carnival Monday to make a statement on whatever is decided pertaining to current affairs, then fancy mas on Carnival Tuesday.
The exhibition begins tomorrow at The Frame Shop corner of Carlos and Roberts Streets in Woodbrook from 11 am to 7.30 pm. Over 40 pieces will be on show until December 9, from 9 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday. All the art pieces are up for sale.