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Ryde ‘Spring Windows’

'Spring Windows' shine a creative light on Ryde’s High Street heritage

Three arts and community organisations in Ryde have been commissioned to create delightful window installations to celebrate the High Street’s Heritage.

A short film showing the people and processes behind the 2021 'Spring Window' installations


Ryde Arts had proposed a Heritage themed illuminated event in November 2020, to make up for the cancelled Illuminated Carnival, but these plans had to themselves be postponed due to the national lockdown. When the country went into it’s 3rd lockdown and restrictions became even more serious in the second wave, it became necessary to think up a different plan. An idea for moving the commissions into shop windows was hatched. Window spotting competitions are themselves part of Ryde’s carnival tradition. It also felt like a new take on the idea of Carnival floats. This time the shop windows become the floats and are static and it’s the audience that are moving!

Commissions were given to Shademakers UK, the New Carnival Company and Network Ryde with artists Teresa Grimaldi and Sarah Vardy working with the young people of Network Ryde. They were to create bespoke heritage themed art installations to go into high street frontages responding to the heritage of the High Street or the specific history of the buildings they are using. The installations are on display the week beginning 12th April until the 19th April to coincide with easing of lockdown restrictions and opening up of retail in the Town. It is hoped that this scheduling will help foster a Spring optimism within the town and boost attention to the High Street.

The New Carnival Company in the Aspire window 

35 – 36 High Street, Ryde, PO33 2HT
12th April to the 19th April
This window showcases the origins of Ryde Carnival and the rich carnival heritage of the town. The New Carnival Company have a global outlook with their work and their own long history with Carnival. Having been housed in ‘The Coaching House’ in Union Road since 2013 they are also intrinsic to the story of Carnival in Ryde themselves now too. 
Creative producer Gina Dyer explains, “The New Carnival Company presents the ‘Origins and History of Ryde Carnival’.
Our window display is Inspired by Ryde Social Heritage Group newsletter dated October 2008. The article is ‘Ryde Carnivals – The Origins’. The story of Ryde Carnival began with the ‘bewildering spectacle’ of Ryde’s celebrations for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, in 1887, of which the queen herself attended. This event was highly successful and hugely popular which inspired the community of Ryde to hold their first Carnival, in fact, one of the first carnivals in the UK, the following year. Carnival quickly spread across the island, bringing families, friends and communities together. By the 1960’s the island carnivals had become huge events involving tourists and locals alike.
We have gathered historic memorabilia to display in the window including, posters, carnival programmes, photographs and carnival costumes to share with the community. Some of which has been kindly donated by Ryde Social Heritage Group, Historic Ryde Society and Ryde Carnival Association. The display complements the New Carnival Company’s project ‘A Rather Bewildering Spectacle’, which aims to gather, record and animate people’s carnival memories. This project is being funded via the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

We have a Facebook page ‘Island Carnival Memories’ where the public can upload and share their old photos of carnival, any associated memorabilia and stories.”

Shademakers UK in the former Elizabeth Pack shop front

29-30 Cross St, Ryde PO33 2AA
14th April to the 19th April

Shademakers are one of the UK’s foremost Carnival companies creating incredible costumes and events in the UK and around the world. They are using the whole of the large frontage of the former Elizabeth Pack building to respond to the story of the building’s use since 1860 to the present day, from ‘Woods and Wilkins’ through the Elizabeth Pack years to the present day and the exciting new plans the company have for it now.

The building’s history has a place in many resident’s hearts and memories; recollections of going to seeing Father Christmas there when young, fashion shows held, the coffee shop and, of course, for many women it is a special place because it’s where they bought their wedding dress from.

Shademakers say, “It is not simply window dressing, three show spaces represent phases of cultural and mercantile history of the Isle of Wight invested in this town centre building which sits at the heart of the community of Ryde. The display represents our pledge to breathe new life into the next generation of the life of this famous store. Recycled materials, original parcel and packaging has been employed to create sale type interpretation from Woods and Wilkins, Packs and Culliford and concludes with carnival art from Shademakers Hullaballoo event. The presentation marks a new age of public inclusion into cultural and artistic common space, a place plan for people. We welcome the potential interaction with the people of Ryde, the Island and further, to join with us in becoming that which we need to be beyond the Pandemic restrictions.

We are pleased to be a part of this initiative and look forward to many new opportunities and events and to protect architectural and cultural heritage into a brave future.”
(left: One of the team scoping out the window space!)

Teresa Grimaldi and Sarah Vardy in @147 Network Ryde window

147 High Street
16th April to the 19th April

Teresa Grimaldi and Sarah Vardy are two Island based artists who have worked with the young people accessing Network Ryde in a continuation of the engagement project that explored the life and work of nineteenth century plantsman Charles Dimmick and will link to the Island’s oldest carnival flower floats.

Teresa Grimaldi says, “We have continued to be inspired by the horticultural context of 147 High Street and the shop’s previous owner Mr Dimmick – a very successful seedsman and nurseryman of the Victorian era. Whilst working with the young people of Network Ryde, we have explored botanical forms through several processes including rust prints, animation, stencils and spray painting.

Spring Windows offers further development of experimental wirework through the brief of ‘flowers’ – observed, imagined and incorporating found objects.”

The artists have run ‘virtual’ workshop sessions with the young people and supplied them with their own materials and tools so that they can contribute to wonderful display of wire flowers.

Please remember to take all usual Covid precautions and social distance when viewing.

Your Feedback

The HAZ project would love to get feedback on the Spring Windows and you can fill in our short online questionnaire here: You can also email your comments to [email protected].