Eric Curtis and Anne Sloboda
Eric Curtis has been flying kites all his life and has been making kites professionally since 1980 when he began screen printing original designs on silk pongee and sewing the silk into small fighters and deltas. The kites were originally sold at craft shows and music festivals across Ontario, and when Eric and his partner Anne moved to a century schoolhouse in Sparta, they continued to make and sell their original designs for over 35 years.
Eric and Anne have been invited guests at many international kite festivals, from India to Italy, France and Columbia, representing the finest in Canadian kite making at some of the biggest festivals in the world. They have won awards at the Smithsonian Kite Festival, Washington State International Festival and the American Kiteflyer’s Annual conventions among others.
Eric and Anne started a small kite fly for about a dozen friends and clients of the then St. Thomas Psychiatric Hospital in 1991, and the kite festival, now the Strawberry Fields Kite Festival, own slowly but steadily since then. Strawberry Fields welcomes over 2,000 kite flyers and kite watchers every year and it is Eric’s voice on the P. A. that keeps the music and announcements coming. The eclectic music mix is from Eric’s own collection and reflect his broad taste across many genres.
Now retired, Eric is working more on personal projects, rather than on production kites.
A current kite, under construction, is a version of Alexander Graham Bell’s famous red silk tetrahedral kite, made with modern materials such as ripstop nylon, and fibreglass spars.
Anne Sloboda is an artist, art teacher and kite designer, who lives in a century schoolhouse in Sparta, with her partner Eric Curtis. Anne trained as a designer/craftsman at Sheridan College School of Design in the 70’s and specialized in glass blowing and textile printing. In 1976, she and Eric opened a print studio in Toronto and began making and selling printed cloth toys at crafts shows and festivals. Anne designs all of the original graphics on Boreal Kites, printing and hand painting the fabric before it is sewn into kites by Eric.
In 1981, after a move to the country, Anne worked as an arts and crafts instructor at the St. Thomas Psychiatric Hospital. During her 34 years at the hospital, she introduced a kite flying program that evolved into the Strawberry Fields Kite Festival, which continues today, despite the hospital closing in 2014. The weird and wonderful trophies awarded at the festival are assemblage pieces created in Anne’s studio specifically for the Festival.
Now retired, Anne is focusing on her paintings, showing in local art shows and working as a volunteer for community groups Canvas & Quill Studio, City Art Centre and Arting Around.