Maarten & Tjitske van Hienen (Netherlands)

Maarten and his wife Tjitske are kite-makers who specialise in patchwork kites, some with 1,600 pieces. Maarten remembers making his first kite with an elderly neighbour when he was just seven years old. It was a simple kite made from wood and paper. He lost interest in kites for a few years until about 25 years ago when he tried to make his first fabric kite. The only problem was he didn’t know how to sew so he asked his mother to do the sewing. When he wanted to make a second kite she told him firmly to do the sewing himself and since then he has not stopped. He quickly became so good at making kites that the local kite shop asked him to sew for them, but after a short time he found it boring and decided then on to only make kites for pleasure.

Some of Maarten’s larger patchwork kites have about 1,600 pieces and take about four months to make. His smallest kite is just 60 cm high and his biggest is 12 metres.

Since the late 1990s Maarten and Tjitske have enjoyed attending kite festivals all over the world including China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey and United Kingdom. A highlight was attending a kite festival in South Korea in 2012 with his oldest daughter Nienke (23 years old) who has recently begun designing and creating kites. “It is really a lot of fun making kites together with your own daughter”, says Maarten.

Maarten and Tjitske come from Almere, in the heart of the Netherlands. They have been married for 24 years and have two daughters. 2016 will be their third visit to #CTKiteFest, “We are very happy to support the good work of Cape Mental Health again,” said Maarten.