The Winter Watch Parade…..
This, which twice at Christmas winds its way through the streets of Chester, is a spectacle of costumes and strange creatures from Wise Men to Ice Queens. These drawings are essentially ‘behind the scenes’ sketches thanks to Russell Kirk, the Director, inviting me one year to draw the actors preparing themselves and gathering for the show to begin.
In a large empty room above the Market Hall the Paraders gathered to dress and apply their make-up; the wall was covered in temporary mirrors stuck up there with tape.
It was ideal ground for trying to capture the intensity and care that each actor took to prepare for the public outside.
ready to start their Christmas task….
The Karamba Samba, Band of the undead drummers, casting evil eyes at a devil before leading the wild Parade…..
…while an older Devil watches, already dressed and taking a rest….
There were other drummers too with their bodrums …. the Corn Men, echoes of a distant past and the traditions of the land…..
…The Wise Men (puppets) carried on their camel trestle, borne into the Parade by a man at each corner….
… The Ice Queens, with long icicle fingers bringing a shiver to the Mid-Winter Festival, the time of lights in the darkest season…
……and a band of finely uniformed musicians to lend rhythm to the Paraders on their way….
Finally the Knights, who will act out their annual combat on the Eastgate Street, watched by the crowds on the Rows…
There are many more, but the parade must start – so the skeleton fire dancers raise their burning torches on the dark street…… and the Winter Watch Parade slowly begins to move……