Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas waves: a love letter

Christmas day in Byron Bay includes surfing. It just does. For me, that means either my beach (which is a usually quite dangerous beach that is always oddly gentle for christmas) or Wategos. This year, it was a double showing at Wategos - morning, then afternoon.

Beautiful, gorgeous, picturesque, lovely, ideal-beyond-belief Wategos is usually packed with people for christmas day, but this year it was raining so the crowds mostly stayed indoors, leaving the waves empty of that fair-weather crew. The morning waves were nothing much to talk about. They were lovely but slightly, well, meh. But the evening was different.

Izzy collected Jessie and I from our respective homes. We stacked our mals on the roof of her car, bid farewell to our snoozing, post-lunch families and drove into town. When we arrived, we were far from inspired by the small waves, which also seemed slightly busier than we had expected. But we were there, and we are frothers, so in we went.

At first there was a weird vibe in the water - a crew of drunk travellers was being kind of aggressive and a bit dangerous. They were taking over in ways that were weird and unnecessary. We considered leaving, but stuck it out, using our knowledge of and relationships to the break to pick off waves from the drunk folk. Eventually they went in, leaving it calmer and safe - me, Izzy, Jessie (and a delighted, smiling Tom, who is always a joy to share any surf with).

And then something happened. I'm not sure what - The wind dropped off? The tide changed? The swell improved? A combination of everything? - but suddenly our average waves became something special. Suddenly they were long, green, glassy, clean, fast and golden. Suddenly Jessie was zipping along, low in her body, crouched on her board, speeding in trim. We were paddling back out laughing and gasping at how fun it was. Suddenly Izzy was at the front of her board, stepping into a perfect 10. Feet together, knees soft, arms by her side, perched on the nose: technical, aesthetic, beautiful. To her delight, I was witness and cheerleader to her stoke, sharing it with her. Suddenly I was turning hard on waves I thought it not possible: flying along, water sparkling from the tail of my board, Izzy and Jess laughing and hooting. Suddenly I was filled with that feeling of connection - body, mind, time, place, water, air, movement all making perfect sense right then and there. That feeling of balance, presence, serenity, happiness, joy, sadness, luck and love. And I got to share that with my friends.

I shouted to Izzy and Jess as we all paddled back out together after getting consecutive waves, laughing and smiling;

This is officially an excellent surf!

Yew! The girls yelled back, This is amazing!!

We surfed together until 8 o'clock that night, until we were tired, until the waves had run themselves out. We giggled, laughed and squawked our way back to the car, re-stacking the boards and giving in to Izzy's offer of champagne and chocolate at her house. We popped the bottle and talked more about the perfect waves we had shared, until Izzy concluded,

I'm going to remember this surf for a long time.

We laughed again, finished the champagne, put on some tunes - Ella, Dusty, Frank, Ray, Diana - and (I) danced until we all began to ache and yawn!

I cannot begin to imagine a more perfect ending to any day, let alone christmas 2011, nor more perfect people to have shared it with.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I have grown

on sands,

soft and white;

in waters,

blue and warm.

I have grown

on the coast

by the sea,

safe and sound

and quiet.

It is my place

to play and laugh,

to sit and think,

to love and mourn.

It is the place

that offers me comfort.

I have never felt fear there.

I have never wailed,

nor felt the sting of

of its thieving violence.

I have never

been asked to know

the ocean when

it plays

so black and blue,

so sharp and hard

so callous.

So oceanic.

I have never

been asked to pay

for my passage,

for my escape.

For me

the water is;









A beginning.

An embrace.

I have never faced

the ocean as

a barrier;









An ending.

A drowning.

It has never

offered me so much

yet taken

so much more away.

It has never lied to me

(The fiend!)

The sand,

white beneath my feet,

has always offered

a path home.

My heart can

barely bring itself

to imagine

the rocks,


broken boats,


loss and

floating bodies,

as part of the same

Australian coastal

vision and embrace.


Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Art Park/Atlantic artist residency in Byron Bay

The art folk of the surfing world have developed some pretty cool and supportive opportunities over the years. The latest one I have just seen is two newly created 4-6 weeks artist residencies in Byron Bay.


I have pasted some of the details below, but trot off to the Art Park website for all the info and application forms. And good luck!

Art Park/Atlantic Guesthouse artist residency

This residency program commences in February 2011. Each residency is held in conjunction with Atlantic Guest House Byron Bay, who provide the artist with accommodation and studio space.

We are happy to consider artists who work with wall mounted works, sculpture, photography, new technologies and installation.

Residency length is four to six weeks long. In consultation with Art Park, each residency may incorporate a solo exhibition and a floor talk.

The Art Park/Atlantic Artist Residency Program will supply and fund:

  • Fully furnished accommodation for a period of up to 6 weeks. The apartment is free of rental, gas and electricity charges to the artist in residence. An internet connection is available. This building is part of the Atlantic complex and is a 5 minute walk to shops, cinemas and the beach.
  • A studio space is available adjacent to the accommodation. A larger printmaking studio is also available off site.
  • Economy class travel from the Artists home to Byron Bay and return.
  • An daily allowance of up to $80.00AUS per day will be paid in advance to the artist to assist with miscellaneous daily expenses (food, surfboard hire, etc)

What we require

Each artist in residence is not required to produce a body of work, although we anticipate the environment may contribute to some creative output.

We ask the artist to leave behind 2 works of any size and format. These works will become part of the Art Park /Atlantic Artists Residency Program permanent collection.

**Applications for 2011 residencies are now open and close on December 31st 2010. You can find an application form via here.**

Residency times

Each residency can range from four to six weeks in the following months:

  • Residency 1: Mid February & March 2011
  • Residency 2: Mid September & October 2011 (to be confirmed)

Collaborations with other Institutions

The Art Park/Atlantic Artist Residency Program has an ongoing relationships with key galleries in Australia and will facilitate an exhibition of work should the artist desire.

Successful applicants are encouraged, but not required, to interact with the local community and schools by providing lectures or floor talks about their art practice.