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Cockerel-headed man to be revealed at Mardi Gras

Colourful costumes are currently being completed around the Island in preparation for this month’s Mardi Gras Biosphere Island parade in Ryde. An impressive cockerel-headed man is taking shape in workshops led by Mardi Gras organisers the New Carnival Company’s (NCC) lead artist and creative producer Gina Dyer. Five ladies from the Adult and Community Learning group have already spent several sessions at Oakfield Primary School making the piece.

Workshop participant France Dicken said, “We began by making the willow frame. I’ve never worked with willow before so it was very interesting to learn how to bend it properly, and measuring it up to fit the wearer. We then covered it in tissue and glue, and added the mosaic pattern.”

The group still have to finish the mosaic decoration, add cockerel, pheasant and ostrich feathers to the cockscomb and create a foam wattle. There will also be lights on the completed piece.

Gina added, “The group have worked really well as a team to master new skills and learn the various techniques required to make this large processional carnival puppet.”

The cockerel-headed man will be part of Oakfield’s Mardi Gras procession, representing ‘Historical Environment’ partner, Brading Roman Villa, and linking with their curriculum topic ‘Life in Roman times’.

The villa’s education officer Spencer Brown has been providing information to ensure the historical accuracy of the costumes.

Spencer said, “Our cockerel-headed man mosaic is from around 280AD and the only one found in the world. We don’t know for sure what he represents, but the uniform he wears tells us he was either a Lanista, training gladiators to fight, or a Venator, hunting animals in the arena.”

Over 1000 participants from local schools and community groups will take part in Mardi Gras Biosphere Island at 3pm on Saturday June 29. The theme supports IW Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’s bid for the Island to receive UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status, with a decision expected just days before the parade.


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