Inside The Tall Ships Crew Parade by Nastassaja Simensky (Guest Blog)
When Trinovante sailed in the Tall Ships Races in 2008 we didn’t know about the crew parades. It was a bit like turning up for a fancy dress party with no fancy dress. The best we could do at such short notice was a set of matching T-shirts given to us moments before the parade by the Norwegian host port Maloy. In 2011 we decided to give it our all. We had to turn our admittedly, rather small crew of 9, into some sort of colourful marching band. That was the remit we gave to artist Nastassja Simensky who was going to sail with us in the races. She became our artistic director.
John and I just went with the flow. We’ll let Nastassaja
take over from here….
Traditional Tribal Threads
This was the easy bit. The schooner Trinovante is named after the local Essex pre Roman Celtic tribe the Trinovante’s so I suggested a loose tribal theme with a modern twist.
The costumes for the crew parade were loosely based on the varied and colourful war costumes worn by the Trinovante and Iceni tribes during battle.
The Celtic Cloak as commented on by the Romans was the best in the known world. It consists of two layers, for insulation, and a hood to cover the head. The outer layer was coarse wool, woven in checks, stripes, or twill and herringbone weaves. The outer layer would also have been oiled, probably with lanolin although the cloaks made for the Trinovante parade were left un-oiled. The inner layer or lining was a smooth tight weave to keep the heat of the body
in, and was probably dyed a single colour. Stone
carvings that depict the cloaks show them to be long
(to the ankle) and full enough to meet down the front.
Material Matters And The Mad VW Camper Van
The pattern chosen for the outer cloak fabric had references to the animal and plant kingdom because the Celts of the ancient world including the Trinovante, were animists who believed that all aspects of the natural world contained spirits, often celebrated through festivals throughout the year and in their costumes and crafts.’
After much internet trawling and haberdashery shopping I found what I thought was the perfect print for the costumes. Su had said bright and eye catching and this print was borderline offensive to the senses. I sent Su a photograph of the fabric (after buying 24 meters of it!) which was met with some surprise to say the least.
Seeing the fabric laid it in its entirety on the lounge
floor I wondered whether it was a little OTT? Just a bit
too gaudy? Or just plain unsavoury.
My fears however were allayed on seeing a VW Campervan,
which bright yellow on the exterior had been completely
furnished with the exact same print!
I used this discovery to convince Su and John that this
was actually a great idea and clearly very cool…
Bedouin Tents and Hot Helmets
To make the inner lining I need vast quantities of fabric on a shoes string budget so smart price bed sheets were the way forward, dying the sheets in my Dad’s washing machine was not quite as easy. Two rubber seals later and kitchen flood the flat started to look like a Bedouin tent, but at least the flat smelt cotton fresh.
Leather for the helmets was a little more challenging and the only practical way of sewing them in the time I had would have been to take them to the cobbler in town who looked pretty unimpressed with that prospect. The leatherette substitute was thin enough for a domestic sewing machine and I hand finished them with feathers to match the cloaks. (These were only worn for five minutes in the end due to the sever head sweats induced by the very plastic composition of the leatherette – not recommended for active wear)
I thought that the cloaks and hats would be sufficient for a crew of nine people and would fit the varied sizes and shapes of the participants.
Su although pleased with the photo updates thought that we needed to be heard as well as seen if we were to strut our stuff in the crew parade. I had anticipated spoons and saucepans and perhaps some shouts and cries but on dropping the costumes of at the boat I was met with some Djembe drums.
Su and John had ordered a set of Djembe drums and books online and after their first recital I realised they were not joking.
Before the boat left the south east cost of England a trip was made to Clacton boot sale where some belts were purchased for the parade. They can only be described as
pure market tat that a true Essex girl would be proud of.
They were horrendous for day to day where but the
bling was perfect for the Tall Ships Parade. The crew wore them with much
gusto along with blue and white tribal face paints.
Lets Hit The Town!
Doing all the face paints and getting the whole crew ready took a couple of hours and by the time we were ready the Trinovante crew were pretty enthusastic about the parade and raring to go.
The huge numbers of people who turned out to see the parade in both Kristiansand and Hartlepool took us by surprise.
As they clapped and cheered us on the fantastic response of the crowd lining the route made everything seem worth while.
You can read more about Trinovante sailing in the Tall Ships Races in the Newsletter archive on our web site.
Or check out these two individual articles about the 2010 races below
Crewing On The Tall Ships Races 2010 The experiences of one of the crew By Elly Perry
SchoonerSail’s Tall Ships race report