This one re­ally won’t fly

The Northland Age - - Local News -

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.

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