Giant kites to take to the skies

Giant kites to take to the skies

MASTER kite-maker Arnaldo Mazzetto's pieces have travelled far and wide and graced numerous international festivals.

This month, the Italian's works of art bring him to Singapore. Mr Mazzetto, 61, will showcase his handmade kites in a special exhibition at the annual NTUC Income Kite Festival Singapore 2014 presented by Act 3 International at The Promontory @ Marina Bay this weekend.

Mr Mazzetto, who has been making kites for three decades, will also be conducting workshops on kite-making.

His grandfather taught him how to make a kite in their hometown of Este in northern Italy when he was seven.

But it was not until much later in his life when he had his own family that he turned kite-making into a serious hobby and, eventually, a profession.

Thirty years ago, when his daughter was seven, he made a kite with her. Since then, he has created about 300 kites, including 10 giant ones. The giant kites will be displayed at the Kite Festival.

Geometrically designed with vibrant hues, the three-dimensional kites are a visual spectacle when airborne.

They span at least 3m in diameter and 10 to 12m in circumference and are put together with 4km of sewing thread. Mr Mazzetto says he makes the kites without help, though he does have a business partner.

As each giant kite takes about 400 hours of work, he produces just one a year. "The biggest challenge is in the planning," he tells Life!.

"I work on one part of the kite at a time and can see the whole kite only after it is done and assembled."

He loves the feeling of seeing his kites take off from the ground and sweep gracefully across the sky.

"When the kites fly, it feels like I'm flying too," he says excitedly, pointing to the sky.

Mr Mazzetto, who still lives in Este with his wife, 59, and 37-year-old daughter, teaches schoolchildren how to make kites on weekends.

His business partner and fellow kite-maker is Gianni Bariselli, 57. Mr Mazzetto has travelled to many festivals in countries such as Germany, Canada and Thailand.

This is his first time in Singapore and he is looking forward to meeting people who share his passion for kites.

The NTUC Income Kite Festival, presented by local arts company Act 3 International, is in its sixth year and has soared to great heights since its first edition in 2009 at West Coast Park. That year, about 5,000 people turned up. That number rose to 15,000 last year.

Ms Ruby Lim-Yang, co-founder and artistic director of Act 3 International, is expecting 20,000 people this year.

"The kite festival goes beyond kites. It's a platform to get people together and give them a good experience whether you're a kiter, an artist, an organiser or just someone who's interested," she says.

This year, more activities targeted at youth - parkour, kite-inspired graffiti and hip-hop dance - have been introduced in order to broaden the festival's appeal.

"Graffiti is a clear expression of energy and an iconic element of youth, while parkour is a physically expressive form of that," Ms Lim-Yang explains.

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