Masks, Parades and Ahab

Red Pepper Storefront

Red Pepper Spectacle Arts Storefront, Toronto, December 2012

After writing about the Russian woodcuts I loved as a child, I’ve decided to widen the scope of this blog to regularly include art works that enrich my life.  In that vein, I was in Toronto’s Kensington Market this weekend where I passed by the Red Pepper Spectacle Arts storefront.  The people there create, among other things, gigantic masks with members of the community.  These are terrific creations that remind me of the work of Bread and Puppet in Vermont and Clay and Paper theatre in Toronto.

Red Pepper

Another view of Red Pepper Spectacle Arts Storefront, Toronto, December 2012

Red Pepper Spectacle Arts presents the Kensington Market Winter Solstice parade each December 21st.  I’ve attended it several times and have been among crowds of people moving through the streets at night.  We carry lanterns and lights to mark the longest night of the year out of which more sunlight will grow.  Among us are huge creatures created by Red Pepper and Clay and Paper.  At those parades, I have always felt like a child held by magic.

Some years ago that feeling of magic drew me to make many small papier (paper) maché masks.  This larger one is big for me and is a favourite of mine.  He’s around 8 ½” x 12” with Japanese papers as his final layer.  I call him Ahab, as in Moby Dick.  He looks mean or scared enough.  So far, he hasn’t retaliated against me for placing a straw hat on him.  And so, we manage to co-exist quite well.

Ahab Mask

Ahab–Papier (Paper) Mache Mask by Lily S. May



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