Workshop Aims and Philosophy

 

Before I started designing and making kites and running  workshops I was a social worker. I worked first with teenagers in care and then with mentally ill adults helping them to try and live in the community rather than in hospital. At the same time I trained as a Gestalt psychotherapist in London.

Often other kitemakers who run kite making workshops ask me what kite do you make? The question has made me realise that my workshops are not really so much about kites as about raising self esteem, using your hands and making something that works. Kites are a great vehicle for all these things as often the most alienated student will respond to a kite. I usually make the easiest kite I know with the highest success, so I make a sled design which works in almost all cases. I  have worked with students who are near to exclusion from school and they are really proud of making something that works, a real thing that you could buy in a shop.


Another of my aims in a workshop is to actually make a kite. This sounds a bit strange; what I mean is that the kite has to fly. I often see kites that students have made  in school and they are a pretty kite shape but need a bridle and much lighter spars to have even a chance of flying. Like a lot of kite makers and flyers I get really frustrated seeing illusrations of kites in adverts and books which would never fly. Even some kite making books for children have plans for kites that won't fly. I recently wrote to a national newspaper here in England as they published an impossible plan in their 'what to do with your kids in the holidays' section. For me a piece of paper with a string tied to it is just that, and not a kite.

There is nothing like seeing apparently 'too cool for school' teenagers running around with kites they have made and as teachers often say 'looking like children again'.When I work with children, who are as young as four years old, the teachers are just glad to be doing something that is such fun after the rigid national curriculum. Even then it is sometimes a chance for a child who feels he or she can never get any thing right to do just that. I suffered myself at the hands of an art teacher who was always terribly disappointed in my work and when I make carp windsocks in schools the whole workshop is geared to getting away from the ' I'm no good at art ' feeling that many students seem to pick up as they get older.