George IV carnival costume

Contributed by Brighton Museum and Art Gallery

George and the Dragon carnival costume

This carnival costume was worn in the Children's Parade of the 2001 Brighton Festival.The carnival tradition comes from the Caribbean plantations where colonisers practised European Catholic and Mediterranean feast day traditions during the period of transatlantic slavery. Enslaved African workers continued their own performance traditions and religions in secret as a form of cultural resistance. On emancipation they combined their own traditions of masquerade, dance and performance with these new cultural influences to create the carnival art form as a celebration of life and freedom. In the 1950s African Caribbeans came to Britain to redress the labour shortage, bringing a culture of carnival with them which now takes place annually across the UK. The piece depicts a fat King George IV with a dragon with oriental domes providing a visual reference to Brighton Pavilion. The designer Rose Holt was fascinated by George IV's inability to stop spending money on the Pavilion.

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