This one really won’t fly
For all his optimism, Russell man Tim Grant isn’t really expecting to soar with the eagles after he launches himself from the town’s wharf on Saturday. And that’s the whole point.
Russell’s Birdman Festival, now in its 11th year, has become the biggest winter festival in Northland. And at every one of those festivals bar one, Tim has leapt off the wharf in search of the supreme title. He did just that in 2015, and has also collected various category wins.
This time he will be airborne, briefly, on behalf of Russell Recyclers, because he is concerned about the use of plastic on the environment and, more pragmatically, he doesn’t have to make his own costume.
“That’s an incentive,” he said.
“In previous years I’ve slapped together some flax and sticky tape a couple of days before the event.”
Tim’s 2018 pilot paraphernalia has been made by local textile artist and designer Sandra Thompson, of Creative Get Up, who specialises in hand-made fabrics from her Parekura Bay property.
The costume was made two years ago, in collaboration with Russell’s Wicked Weavers, and Sandra has been waiting for an opportunity to exhibit it ever since. What began as discarded fishing lines that would normally go into a landfill is now an original Thompson.
“What I was trying to do with this outfit is represent a bird strangled in nylon,” she said.
For many years she has produced bespoke clothing, but is now changing her focus towards crafting art pieces as statements about the environment.
“There is a fine line between wanting to recycle and not using stuff, which is why I chose fishing line and why I don’t make anything from plastic bags,” she said.
The costume, which is not named, represents a bird struggling in flight, and for the first time since he began ‘flying,’ Tim Grant will be wearing a wet suit underneath it.
Parekura Bay designer Sandra Thompson hiding within the costume she has created for Tim Grant to wear at Russell’s Birdman Festival on Saturday.