“Shademakers embark upon voyages of discovery, making possible the fantastic and the stage a place for dreamers.”


Our Mission Statement:

To promote, design and perform Carnival and Carnival Art. To develop excellence in Carnival as an artistic form and its manifestations as mutually shared experiences for all, in its production and presentations in the public realm.

Shademakers Carnival Club UK is a National Portfolio Organisation of the Arts Council of England


Shademakers Carnival Club was established in 1990 in North Manchester. Formed initially as a Friendly Society, appeared for the first time at the Notting Hill Carnival in 1992 and have attended the event ever since. The company began as a project of the Artist group A.F.T.E.R whose aim to make public art accessible to a broad public became the inspiration to use Carnival and Carnival Art to mobilize mass and community generated creative and collective function.

Paul McLaren developed the Shademakers as Artistic Director and retained much of the artistic and cultural integrity developed in the groups early phase in respect of cooperative and collaborative works in performance art and site specific installation.

The Social context for the work was based on a theme based investigation into the origin of the source of carnival. It involved unearthing myth and hidden history and creating visual triggers in the costume and portraying fantastical and grotesque subject matter through reinvented narrative.

The formative years of Shademakers in the UK operated in tandem with the work of contemporary artist networks. The approach and attitude to subject matter involved the human politic of social, environmental, historical and economic contexts. It also resulted in carnival art based work being presented in unorthodox spaces, galleries and locations, making traditional Carnival venues for Shademakers new and unexplored areas of activity. It also meant the basis of design, theory, shape and form were not part of an existing tradition and therefore were created as a hybrid cultural form of public street art, location theatre and performance art.

  The German Period

A move into Europe

In 1993, the Artist and Shademakers’ designer, Paul McLaren became Artist in residence at the Artist Unlimited Studios in Bielefeld, Germany. The period represented a re-establishment of the Shademakers Club in Germany as an e.V. (eingetragene verein) or registered charity equivalent in Germany. As a consequence, various local, national and international appearances and performances created some notoriety for Shademakers in a city beyond the limits of the traditional German Karneval and Fastnacht. The subsequent fall of Communism and the Berlin Wall lead to a new spirit, epitomised by the energies, not just of two opposing national cultures but, young and old, ethnic minorities and foreign cultures from East and West.

Shademakers became founder members of the Berlin Karneval der Kulturen and organizers of the Bielefeld Carnival der Kulturen event by 1996. The event, with partners Welthaus is still organized by Shademakers Carnival Club which celebrated its 18th anniversary in 2014 as the `Lighthouse´ event of the 800th year of Bielefeld celebration.

 Return to the UK

From Mainland Europe to the Isle of Wight

In 2011 Paul McLaren returned to the UK to participate in the Island games opening celebration on the Isle of Wight. The Games opening ceremony’s Artistic Director and Costume designer Sharon George worked extensively with local communities on the Island together with local artists and resident guest artists. As a leading figure in the Isle of Wight based Mas Fusion group, Sharon has developed a local, national and international reputation for her work as an artist, designer and performer.

As early as 2011, plans were set in motion to form a collaboration between both Shademakers and Mas Fusion groups, sharing skills, ideas and resources. As a result of experience in educational workshops to high level costume construction and performance, the consequently formed Shademakers UK have set the standard so that others may reach. The wealth of artistic experience within the group makes it a leader in the field of a developing hybrid form of a Great British Carnival.

Based at the Castleworks factory in Wroxall, a purpose built environment for the production of large and small scale works, Shademakers embark upon voyages of discovery, making possible the fantastic and the stage a place for dreamers.