Big waving tentacles of a mega floating puppet in the sky ogling the many little ones on Kabeljous Beach were the first signs of the Kite Festival in Jeffrey’s Bay this morning. Little heads bending backwards, aspiring kite fliers launched their smaller acquisitions somewhat out of the way of the daunting shadow of the professional sky riders.
With stalls for lunch time snacks, cool drinks, sweets, and, of course, a place where one could buy one’s very own flying contraption, this lower part of the town was the hub of family activities today. Toddlers splashing in the lagoon, others dripping ice cream on the sand, the bigger ones trying their hands at the intricate strings of a kite and even more youngsters walking up to fishermen along the shoreline, none seemed very put out at yet another surfer’s lay day.
But the spectacle was the bright creations dancing above everyone’s heads.
Pieter Binsbergen, art lecturer at the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro University (NMMU) and the “Mad Max of Kiting” donned his scary outfit and juggled colourful creations in the air. He calls himself an avid kite flier and describes kiting as “painting the sky with sculptures”.
““Kites are modern expressions of art, just much more accessible than the traditional exhibition – without the bow tie and glass of wine, without the outrageous prices. Kite flying has an element of performing. The reach is also much better. In stead of one room of people looking at canvases, almost the whole of the town can derive pleasure out of our giant flying canvases.”
The original kite master of South Africa, Greg Mountjoy, builds kites for a living and collects giant show kites to attract more interest in his art.
“I do mainly stick kites – along the lines of the early simple kite shaped ones, just much more intricate,” he explains. “My clients want custom built constructions, what one can call artisan kites. They are all one-offs and original,” says the “kite sculptor” from Knysna.
Not only is the spectacle of the beautiful big blue octopus, the colourful fish and the frog dancing in the skies above Kabeljous Beach breathtaking. The price of these imported giant creations, ranging from R5 000 to R35 000, also snatches the breath away.
Whether you want to see kite flying as a modern expression of art or simply a fun activity to entertain the kids with, this item on the calendar of the JBay Winterfest has seemingly established itself as something to do when the devilish cross shore makes Supertubes unsurfable. Especially then, like this morning, these sky dancing figures grabs the wind, puffs up their colourful robes and perform their own magic whilst surf boards and wetsuits take a breather.