Goodman Collection photographs and descriptions by Malcolm Goodman
CAN YOU TELL US HOW LONG YOU’VE BEEN INVOLVED IN KITE FLYING AND ABOUT YOUR LIFE IN ENGLAND BEFORE KITES?
My attraction to wind and flight began early in childhood. Like many of us, I recall making and flying brown paper diamond kites with my father, but the pastime did not grab me and I put it aside, as in my early teens I was more interested in crystal sets and short wave radios. I left school at 14 without any qualifications. I was diagnosed later in life as having dyslexia.
I became an apprentice at a radio and hi-fi shop and at 19 was headhunted to be the Service Manager/Engineer for a chain of camera, hi-fi, and TV shops where I was trained in electronics by Sony, Bang & Olufsen, and many other well-known brands.
YOU HAVE A BACKGROUND IN LAND SAILING, DON’T YOU? DO YOU KEEP AN EYE ON MORE EXTREME FORMS OF KITING: KITE SURFING, KITE BUGGYING, KITE SAILING, OR ENERGY GENERATION?
In the 70s I became seriously interested in land yachting, racing and competing across the United Kingdom, and I also went to Northern Ireland where I won the Class 3 Championship. Like kiting, land yachting is a wind-dependent sport and I realized that when waiting around for the wind to pick up I needed something to do.
The answer: Peter Powell had just introduced his stunt kites, but as I couldn’t afford to buy one I found a cheaper two-line kite from America called a “Barnstormer.” This was similar to a Peter Powell kite but made from thinner plastic and wooden dowelling. It was made by Mattel, the toy company.
I also became interested in hang gliding. I progressed well, but after a serious crash I switched to parascending. Once again it was the serious accident of a close friend that made me give up this hobby and concentrate on kiting and keeping my feet on the ground!
I take a keen interest in any new developments in wind energy. Wind energy is now being harnessed, but there is a long way to go!
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR KITE COLLECTION AND THE INTERNATIONAL TRAVELS THAT HELPED TO FORM IT?
In 1976 I went on a holiday to San Francisco and Seattle, and near Pier 39 I saw people flying single-line kites. I was so impressed with them and while in Seattle I joined the local kite club (West Coast Kite Fliers?), mainly to receive information about kiting developments. I also bought my first “oriental” kite from the Kathy Goodwin kite store. When I returned to England I made a simple kite and happily for me it flew the first time.
In 1982 I read in the Seattle club newsletter that Dave Checkley was arranging a trip to Japan to visit the Hamamatsu and Chiba kite festivals. I wrote to the club and asked if I could join them. They said yes, so I remortgaged my house to pay for the trip. While the trip was being planned the group was invited to China by the Peking Kite Institute, as kite flying was restarting after being banned during the Cultural Revolution. They wanted to know about western kites and the materials we used.
This was my first trip to the Far East and I fell in love with the kites and the people. I also realized that most of the kite masters in both Japan and China were getting old and had no apprentices to carry on the traditional skills. That’s when I decided to start collecting oriental kites so that future generations would be able to see these beautiful works of art.
Tal Streeter was also on the tour, which made it even more magical and educational. I returned home after six weeks with many oriental kites that I still treasure to this day, and I felt that my life had changed forever. Since those early days, my wife, Jeanette, and I have been lucky enough to travel extensively throughout the Far East and have amassed a comprehensive collection of oriental kites.
WITH THE RECENT PASSING OF STUNT KITE MAKER PETER POWELL, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT ANY EARLY INTERACTIONS YOU MIGHT HAVE HAD WITH HIM, HOW YOU VIEW HIS ROLE IN INTERNATIONAL KITING?
I met Peter around 1978 at kite festivals in the south of England, and I invited him to many of the kite festivals I organized in the north of England. He was a t rue “showman,” always immaculately dressed in a suit and tie. It didn’t matter what the weather was doing, Peter was always able to put on a wonderful performance.
His best trick was being driven around the arena in either an open top car or him standing on the back seat of a car with his head and shoulders through the open sun roof flying a stack of three kites. I think Peter more than anyone else was responsible for introducing so many people in the western world to kiting and making it acceptable for adults to fly and make kites and kites not to be thought of only as a child’s toy.
ANY OTHERS WHO ARE RECENTLY DECEASED WHO YOU THINK FORMED THE LANDSCAPE OF ENGLISH KITING?
Jilly Pelham, Alec Pearson, Ron Moulton, Clive Hart, David Turner, Peter Powell – there may be others but I knew most of the above personally.
TALK ABOUT YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN KITE FESTIVALS AND YOUR OPINION OF THE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING OF FESTIVALS IN GREAT BRITAIN.
After returning from a kite festival in 1986, I did an interview on local TV. Shortly after I received a call from an Arts Center that was organizing an Anglo/Japanese Festival. They asked if I could organize a kite festival as just one part of the event. I said yes, and it was a great success with kitefliers from all corners of the world attending. Over the next 20 years in which I was involved, it became known as the Sunderland International Kite Festival and regularly attracted over 50,000 spectators. The public and kitefliers alike thoroughly enjoyed the festival.
I have organized many more festivals in all parts of England, Scotland, and Ireland, but sadly due to the economic situation over the past years it has been very difficult getting sponsorship for kite events. Two or three international festivals are still going and hopefully as the economy picks up there may be more. There are a few smaller festivals and sometimes the odd new one pops up for a one-off event.
ARE THERE ANY YOUNG STARS MAKING AN IMPRESSION ON THE BRITISH KITING SCENE?
In the north of England we do have a few promising young kitefliers who make and fly single-, two,- and four-line kites. I’m not sure what is happening in other parts of the country.
HOW DO WE “OLD GUYS” RECRUIT YOUNG PEOPLE TO THE INTERNATIONAL KITE FLYING MOVEMENT?
That’s a difficult one – kite workshops, talks, visiting schools, kite exhibitions in museums and art galleries, kite festivals, and spectator participation for youngsters. Press, radio, and TV programs.
ARE YOU INVOLVED IN SOCIAL MEDIA TO PROMOTE KITING OR YOUR COLLECTION?
Yes, I built my own website (www.kiteman.co.uk) about 16 years ago to promote and show the fascinating world of kites. Sadly I have never had the time to update it, but over the years it has had millions of visitors and I still get many enquiries from it. The pages visited most often are those on kite history and my oriental kite collection.
I have recently photographed my complete Japanese collection, which will be available to view on Flickr in the near future. More of my collection to follow when time permits.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT KITES THAT HAS KEPT YOUR ATTENTION FOR SO MANY YEARS?
From those early days, kites have become a big part of our lives. Over the years we have participated at kite festivals in many exotic places. Jeanette and I married at an American Kitefliers Association Convention in Hawaii in 1989, and throughout our travels we have met many wonderful people, some of whom have become very good friends. We are lucky to have had so many magical experiences which have left us with unforgettable memories. ◆