42 Years of
This is an almost complete archive of posters promoting the Festival of the Winds. The original poster was screen-printed by printmaker Leonie Lane of Cockroach Posters, a Glebe based printmaking collective comprising of many significant Sydney based printmakers of the time. In alignment with the inaugural Festival's dedication to Lawrence Hargrave, the first poster depicts Hargrave and his invention.
This archive of posters suggests some of the key events, shifts and trends in the Festival’s history. In 2002 the Festival poster is replaced by a notification regarding the Festival's cancellation. After numerous deferrals of the event and against the backdrop of a public liability crisis in Australia, Festival of the Winds was replaced by a family kite flying day. Despite an incident-free history, Festival organisers were unable to insure the event in relation to airborne objects.
Other notable moments in this collection of posters include the image of a Red Baron in 1994 signifying the first red baron plane flight at the Festival. The poster of 2012 includes a Chinese dragon alluding to the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese Lunar Calendar with Pak Hok Kung Fu International’s presentation of Kung Fu demonstrations and a grand Lion Dance. The 2016 poster features a commissioned artwork by Street Artist Joel Moel (Mulga) coinciding with his North Bondi Mural commission.
The Festival posters are now widely regarded as collector items with original prints of the first poster being particularly rare.
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History of Festival of the Winds and the Australian Kiteflyers Society
Let’s go fly a kite!
A brief history of Festival of the Winds
In the 1970’s, there was a huge burst of interest in how to save energy, generate energy or find alternative sources of energy for the future. At the time, Glebe local and university student John Silk had become particularly interested in wind energy. After reading about wind energy and kites, John learnt to make and fly them. Fascinated by the possibilities of wind, John loved seeing kites flying in the sky.
Finding that there were annual kite festivals in Europe, Japan, Mexico and many other countries, John decided that he would bring his dream to life and start a kite festival in Sydney. Ideas for the Festival came quickly. He described it as springing almost fully formed into his mind. He would call it Festival of the Winds and it would be held in Spring at Bondi Beach, the best place and time of year to fly a kite!
On 10 September 1978, the first Festival of the Winds was held. The Mayor of Waverley of the time, Mr Ernie Page (right), officially opened the Festival and declared the sky open. He then joined the crowd to fly a kite. It was a resounding success with around 7,000 people attending across the day. People from across Sydney came to Bondi Beach with their kites, flying, learning and enjoying the beach and its surrounds. John organised a kite oriented exhibition in the Bondi Pavilion Gallery showing local kite maker and exhibitor, Peter Travis’s kites for a flying display. The Bondi Pavilion foyer displayed photographs of Australian Aviation Pioneer Lawrence Hargraves kite experiments, the Amphitheatre was used for music by wind instruments and entertainment, and the surrounds of the park, beach and pavilion for kite making and flying. There was also junior and senior events to delight spectators and competitors alike!
Judges assessed the overall performance of the kites from launching, construction, stability and duration of flight and landing. Points were given for gracefulness, presence and manoeuvrability.
The success of the Festival led to it happening year after year, allowing it to become a fixture in Sydney’s events calendar. The Festival of the Winds continues to provide a great day for everyone in the community, representing the joy of kite flying, the community, the environment and the celebration of the best in all cultures in Australia and around the world.