Flowers and Fruits – Cito Valesquez

Flowers and Fruits This is the work of Cito Valesquez his sculptures were set along streets of Port of Spain during the celebration of its independence in 1962

A Fancy sailor band clashing with a Steelband in Port of Spain, Trinidad, 1959.

Each masquerader carried a candy striped cane, twirling the hook on the pavement as he danced along the street. The elaborate papier mashé headpieces showcased every variety of Flower taken from the Botanical Gardens. The Fruits were crafted to make them look as edible as they could.

The wire bender had done his job and all Fruits and Flowers kept its shape perfectly as a sea of bouquets in equilibrium with the convoy of fancy sailor costumes. Starch white shirts with broad collars and lapels marking each military rank and wearing flared bell bottoms with gold tassels to crown each hem. Each man carried his canteen filled an intoxicating concoction and Baby power was held securely as ammunition to target revellers with a mist baby’ fragrant.

A mas man between the fruits and flowers

By midday, the binging of Rum had gradually gone to everyone’s head and the momentum could not be stopped. People played their Mas by swaying and tilting back and forth in a choreographed dance that worked effortlessness with their hands to give the sense of boat rocking back and fro. The music had hypnotised them like free slaves mocking the French and the march into Port of Spain was even sweeter. But did they know were they heading?

At East Dry River, large oil drums pulsed from not too far and in the distance, they looked like shivering shimmering canopies in row one after another. Underneath each tent, panmen contorted their body to strike each note correctly and their arms vaulted in unison as the pan sticks careened off the steel drums. Booming and booming. The ensemble had come with its myriad of supporters as they pushed the carts carrying the drums and players oblivious to the festive colourful Fruits and Flowers who were basking in the sun, yet this steelband were prepared for any altercation if and girlish band dared to cross their path.

Hibiscus headpieces

The fancy sailors had drifted off their path from Oxford Street and entered a No Fruits and Flowers Zone of Piccadilly Street. The turf belonged to the Bad Boys of John John and unwillingly, Fruits, Flowers and Floats merged with Carib Tokyo Steel Band Orchestra but not too smoothly. The alcohol had trance them both and sent a wave of silence in the thick humid air.

Pushing pan across the Queen’s Park Savannah stage

Was it a simple miscalculated puff of baby powder or the poke by an elegant Hibiscus petal? After all, these were men and this was warfare. Johnson’s Baby Power against an arsenal of bottles, sticks and vernacular not fit of the Queen.

A policemen on the beat

These maquettes represent Cito Valesquez’s carnival band, Flowers and Fruit. The work is by Lighton James and it is his whimsical take on Trinidad carnival in spirit and of the nuances which is till part of the festival. The displayed was shown at a sport’s club in Barataria from 2002, Images of Lighton James’ work are courtesy of Kathyan Chan

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