Showing posts from 2011

One of those unexpected midday stoke sessions

If you want to surf in Byron Bay during summer, in the depths of the school holidays, then give up on any expectations about getting waves. However, what you can expect is thronging crowds, and getting snaked, dropped in on and interrupted on the few waves you manage to snare. You must compromise: speeding along int rim is awesome, but when there are 100+ people in your line, you have to turn your board. You have to accept being patient. I mean, you really have to love lineups. So when a few of us decided to go in for a surf in the worst of Byron's summer lineups - The Pass - we were dubious at best. There were uncertain conversations, there were 'Are you sure?' moments. But we went anyway. The sky was clear blue, the sun was shining, the water was like crystal and there was little swell leaving us few other options. And we figured everywhere was going to be busy anyway.

As I parked I saw Jules and Gary heading to their car. What's it like? I asked, hesitantly. Just don…

Christmas eve

Fridge poetry. Endless thank yous to friends, to home, to the ocean.

Bouquets. Love. Passing.



I remember the surf I had on the day I found out my mother’s cancer was back and she was going to die: the colours, the sunset, the wetsuit, the disbelief, the sadness. I remember the evening light on the water. I lay flat on my board, my face at water level, watching the orange, gold, lilac and silver of the fading day shimmering on the glassy green surface of the sea. It was so beautiful. I think of that day when I surf of an evening. I think of my mother then. That beautiful soft light is bittersweet for me. From that evening, the ocean, the light, the time of day, the water, the waves, my board all wove their way through the following years, so the moments of pain, reflection, sadness and love found traction in my memory in ways that make sense, for me.I remember the moment when I realised my heart was breaking. When I paddled out into the crowd last summer, thinking I could escape from the fog of sadness. But it didn’t work, nothing worked, and I was frustrated. I remember the to…


Sometimes one year can feel like ten.

Beach babes

All images via Miss Moss (who lifted them from here). I'm especially obsessed with the first one.

If only..

This little film, Hey Ho Let's Go Surfing, just made my day.
Thank guys!
Hey Ho Let's Go Surfing from Nathan Oldfield on Vimeo.

'Surf City' - Exhibition at the Museum of Sydney

The amazing looking exhibition Surf City has just opened at the Museum of Sydney. This exhibition has has been coming together for some time and has seen the curator, Gary Crockett, collaborate with around 40 collectors in and around Sydney. The exhibition is not just about surfing itself, but places it in the context of Sydney as a city, as well as thinking about the social, political and cultural events and changes that were happening along the way. If you find yourself in Sydney between now and March, it looks as though it would be worth a visit. I'll be checking it out this weekend.
For more information, photos, clips and an idea of what it is all about, you can check out the exhibition blog here. From the blog; Surf City will track Sydney’s dynamic surf scene through the 50s, 60s and 70s: spanning an amazing period of social upheaval, post war optimism, teen angst, rock and roll, prosperity, drugs and shifting cultural frontiers. We'll feature Sydney's surfing hubs, hot…

Surf film bonanza

If you're a surfer living in Brisbane - and I am - then this year's Brisbane International Film Festival has a whole category of films called 'Let's Go Surfing'. Including surf films including Crystal Voyager, The Fantastic Plastic Machine and High on a Cool Wave, more recent films like First Love, a retrospective of Albie Thomas, and a series of silent films accompanied by live music, there is a whole range of surf-related films that have been curated for your viewing pleasure.
Seriously, you should check it out - it's pretty amazing!
Maybe I'll see you there...


This beach-side footpath must have been laid some years ago. The 80s? The 90s?

Either way, the times, they have a-changed and this sentiment would probably no longer be so concretely expressed* in this small coastal town, where mals and a variety of other boards abound.
It gave me an unexpected laugh as I got out of the longboard-laden car though.

*Pretty stoked with myself there.

Sunday funday

This is my new favourite photo.

My niece and nephew love the beach and the sand and the water and the waves. They are used to seeing my boards and always ask me about surfing. My 2 1/2 year old niece will run after me as I walk about the door: Surfing? Surfing?
Yesterday, my sister and I took them to the beach where we grew up. We walked out the back gate of our parents' house and along the scruffy beach-track. The kids fought over who got to carry their surfboard, but feisty little MD won. I didn't realise, but she watched the way I was carrying my mal, and copied me as she followed us along the path.
As soon as we dumped our stuff in the dunes, my nephew ran into the shorebreak and focused on catching the biggest waves! He would wait and wait until one arrived that he thought was big enough and would throw himself into the foaming white-water, flying along until he slid up along the sand and then running straight back out. He was picking them well.
Best Sunday in a long time.

...just for one day


Looking into a crystal ball

(I'd credit this image if I could, but it's just one of those wonderful, joyful images that someone sees and says, 'this made me think of you'!)

"Bodies we want" - ESPN annual Body Issue

So, last year Kelly Slater went au natural for the 'ESPN 2010 Body Issue: Bodies we want'. It's a great image.
Included in ESPN's 'Bodies we want' this year, was Steph Gilmore:
Before you assume what I am thinking, you should know that I reckon both images are beautiful and indeed, on many levels (youthful, ageing, fit, athletic, desirable, healthy, aspirational, sexual) these are certainly bodies to want! I do, for sure.
But, of course, sometimes it is useful and interesting to think beyond the surface, beyond the desire and beauty...
While it is hard to access Kelly's shoot and interview from last year (it seems I have to pay to enter the ESPN archive, which is fine but not today), Steph's interview is up and available for now. You know what else is available? Her body stats (height and weight!) and some comments on which parts of her perfect young body are her favourites. These are the bits where the ESPN thing starts to fall apart for me. And yes, I am…

Overhearing the neighbours

Now that winter is done, everyone in Brisbane is venturing back onto their verandahs of an evening; sitting, reading, eating, drinking, talking with friends. It's lovely. Where I live the blocks of land are big, but they're longer than wide so the houses are close together. It means you hear a lot of conversations, music, tv and other goings on that aren't happening in your house. Mostly, we all pretend not to notice each other, so even when we are all sitting outside and can see each other only metres away, we just mind our own business. Or at least appear to.
Last night I was sitting on our verandah, drinking a beer and working. Next door a couple of women were having a cup of tea, some ciggies and a catch up, gossiping away unselfconsciously about work, parties, friends, guys and hook-ups. Although I wasn't really listening, the conversation drifted across my table and this snippet of conversation caught my attention: I don't know what I was thinking. He was so g…

'Point Break' revamped: 21st century masculinity?

So, you might have heard that there are plans afoot to remake Point Break*.

According to producer Michael DeLuca, the 1991 film, "wasn't just a film, it was a Zen mediation on testosterone fuelled action and manhood in the later 20th century and we hope to recreate the same!" (exclamation point Michael's own). Except that this time, I'm assuming they hope to create a "Zen mediation on testosterone fuelled action and manhood" in the early 21st century, which could make it an entirely different film.
Either way, I'm not sure about this. I mean I honestly love the original, but mostly for its 90s kitsch and the camp performances of surfer dude-ness and bro love by Patrick Swazye and Keanu Reeves, rather than for any deeper meaning, connection or zen meditation. But could they really still get away with "Surfing is the source. Surfing is the ultimate"? Could anyone honestly take themselves that seriously again? Will the main characters show th…

Liquid Light

I recently wrote these words to appear alongside Joni Sternbach's images from Byron Bay in a gallery for The Anthropologist on Facebook. Check them both out!
Melissa (by Joni Sternbach)
Liquid Light
The Pass is a very particular place. It swells and swirls with adults, children, families, old and young. Locals and tourists sit alongside each other, indistinguishable in their swimmers and boardshorts, lying on their towels. The sweep of beach curves the inside length of the Bay, arcing back in on itself before trailing north again to the town and beyond. The mountains peak and trough in the distance, with evaporating oil rising from the eucalypts turning the landlocked horizon blue, bottle green and purple – that very particular Australian bush palette. On the sand, warming in the morning summer sun, families have staked their claim. Children run and scream with delight as they play in the shallows, build castles and ride in the foamy waves close to shore. Parents stand guard – arms fo…

My girliest post ever.

Over the past few years, I've thought and written a lot about the ways the ocean, sun and surfing mark my body. From the tanlines that map my skin, to the aches and pains of paddling and even down to the sadness I feel at getting back to the city and washing away the ocean from my skin, hair and eyes. I've always loved the salty way my skin and body changes when I'm surfing a lot, and I've come to accept that my eyes turn red and wet, and that my hair is dry and brittle and that my skin gets odd marks. At home these things are normal, but in this city they are strange and difficult for some people to understand.
Now, living a life so far from the ocean, my body has changed again - in ways that make me sad. Sure my eyes are clear and healthy and my skin is an even tone, but my muscles have softened and I'm not nearly as strong as I was a year ago. My hair has lost its salty blonde and the mere sight of a bikini fills my heart with fear. Nay, terror! But I've be…

White Wash

Yes. YES! This new film, White Wash, looks great. It's opening in the USA this month - go see it!

From the White Wash website: White Wash, the documentary, is a film exploring the complexity of race in America through the eyes of the ocean. Examining the history of “black consciousness” as it triumphs and evolves into the minds of black surfers, we learn the power of transcending race as a constructive phenomenon. The story is narrated by the legendary, Grammy Award winner Ben Harper (Fistful of Mercy, Relentless 7, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals) along with Tariq “Blackthought” Trotter of the Grammy Award winning hip hop group, The Roots whom also originally scored the film.

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

Recently, a very wise friend of mine has been imparting advice from an unexpected and amusing source: via scenes from the animated film, Finding Nemo. While usually this would concern me, coming from her it's hilarious, thoughtful and well-timed. So this post and this song (which has been stuck in my head for a week now) is dedicated to the truly wonderful, Rebecca Vonhoff. You're a doll xx

Keala Kennelly is hardcore: NOW do you believe it?

Often, when people talk about women's big wave surfing, they talk about it as though it's somehow 'lesser' than what the guys do or as though women don't go as 'hard'. While I'm not going to go into why that's a redundant and ridiculous argument (I've talked about it previously anyway), I am interested in a couple of images of Keala Kennelly circulating at the moment, and what their affect might be on this way of thinking.
First is this wipeout of hers at Teahupo'o during the now infamous two-in session there at the end of August;

But also, here is an image of her one of the waves that she made;
Also heavy. And finally, this image of an injury she got shortly after;
Again, heavy.
Seeing Keala Kennelly's horrifying injury made me think about how this photo, it's timing and connection with the recent focus on Teahupo'o and the wide-ranging distribution this image is getting, might affect the way we thing about the women who surf …

Lady logging

And I love, love, love this section from 'Sprout' by Thomas Campbell!

(Thanks for reminding me of it Mar Lake)

Lapsed Catholics

I've mentioned this film by Toddy before, but I never actually got around to posting it.
I think about the ideas and feeling of this film quite often, and how commitments, connections, relationships, time can lapse without you even noticing it. How things shift so slowly that they escape attention until they've changed so significantly that you don't really know if you can ever go back. Of course, you can't. You can only move along and in other directions, and maybe those things will be a part of where you're headed. Or maybe they're finished, relegated to be an inescapable part of who you will be and become - a memory, regret or yearning.
Melancholy? Perhaps. But beautiful with it.


The Surf Magazines Don't Talk About Lapsed Catholics from Todd Stewart on Vimeo.

Cornish summer

Years ago, I spent a northern summer living in MawganPorth in Cornwall. It was lovely. I lived at a surf school, right on the beach, where I spent a fair bit of time. In the days I was working long, long hours at a cafe, but in the evenings I would take walks along the cliffs to watch the sun set into the ocean, which is still a thrill for an east coast Australian person.
The culture of the seaside holiday crowd is very different to beach culture in Australia. People bring more stuff for starters. They are armed with buckets, spades, balls, bats, hats, sunscreen, boogie-boards, picnics, clothes, rain-gear, multi-coloured plastic wind-blocks and chairs, while ice-creams, chips and tea are always for sale close by. When the holidays first began, I was amazed by how many people could fit on one beach - especially since they had so much stuff with them. And they were all there through sunshine, rain and fog! At first, I didn't understand it at all, but after a while I felt a great affe…

Glass Beach

My friend sent me this link from Colossal in an email the other day, and I sincerely don't know what to make of it.
Photo from digggsPhoto from Matthew High Photo via Megan Beginning in 1949, the area around Glass Beach became a public dump. It is hard to imagine this happening today, but back then people dumped all kinds of refuse straight into the ocean, including old cars, and their household garbage, which of course included lots of glass.By the early sixties, some attempts were made to control what was dumped, and dumping of any toxic items was banned. Finally in 1967, the North Coast Water Quality Board realized what a mistake it was and plans were begun for a new dump away from the ocean.Now, over 30 years later, Mother Nature has reclaimed this beach. Years of pounding wave action have deposited tons of polished glass onto the beach. You'll still see the occasional reminder of it earlier life, such as a rusted spark plug, but for the most part what you'll see is milli…

Arc: Lines of Flight

(Inspired by Brine Time)

'Lines of Flight'

Despite our feelings
and our needs, the way of things never really flows in one direction.
They arc north and south,
east and west, bending and curving in on themselves.
(In)consistent, twisting, bent, warped, clean, curved, divine.
Time and light have smooth curves and clean lines of flight, into the unknown.
We mould these curves and lines into our lives: aesthetic, moving. They hold us still and shift us through the world, earthly and oceanic.
The way of things never really flows in one direction.


(Images from ASP via Swellnet)
A confession.
On no level do I get the surfing at Teahupo'o that I have been watching today. I mean, it's totally spectacular and entertaining, but in terms of it making any kind of sense or being an experience or even a concept that I can relate to in an at all realistic or rational way... I draw a blank.
So even though I am enjoying sitting open-mouthed as I watch these people take off on such crazy mountains of water, there is a massive bit of my rational mind that asks, 'Why? WHY?' Because I'd like to say that I find them courageous, but then I wonder if it's not just blind stupidity!
Having said that, I am endlessly amused to read various blogs where commenters ridicule those who pull back from taking off on waves that would most likely have munched them into the reef. I mean, it's a pretty rich call to make from the safety of your own couch, huh.
Anyway, I don't usually get into surf comps, but this one has been pretty co…

Mariachi El Bronx

When punk goes mariachi...

Of course, I can't really post anything mariachi-related without also posting this clip now, can I!

4-6' and clean

Sunday afternoon at my bus stop, conditions were almost perfect....
If only it was water!

She goes alright...

I could never tire of watching Isabelle Braly surf.

This gorgeous photo is from Nathan Oldfield's lovely blog, Look&Sea.

El Mar, Mi Alma

I don't know much about this film, El Mar, Mi Alma. But going by this clip I am looking forward to finding out more. Whatever the case, I won't have to wait long...
'El Mar, Mi Alma', coming soon.
El Mar, Mi Alma - film preview from Rebel Waltz Films on Vimeo.

...and the afternoon

...that ended with family.

This morning

An early start today...

Walk, skate, roll to the city (or Toowong).

I came across this sign as I was walking to the markets in West End this morning. It's directing non-motorised, non-cycling traffic along the river around some post-floods works. The cycle/footpath along the river got pretty decimated during all of that, so they're taking the opportunity to make some sections a bit more user friendly. I walk past it all the time, so I'm not sure why I haven't noticed it before - I've never seen another one like it.
They're three such disconnected graphics though. Almost like they're from different decades of design - 60s, 80s, 90s is my guess. How great is the little skater. Looks like she's mid-flight, or about the launch off some stairs or something!
Yeah Brisbane.

Do women surf much?

Because I know so little about it (i.e. nothing at all) this surfing stuff fascinates me… Excuse my naïve question, but do women surf much? Is it a male-dominated thing?This comment appeared at the bottom of one of petebowes’ beautifully written and amusing posts the other day, and I can’t really figure out whether I’m shocked, upset or kind of flattered by this question. I can’t figure out whether it’s an indictment on the ways that women are almost invisible in representations of surfing both in Australia and beyond, whether I’m sad because apparently so few women surf that they escape the notice not only of surfing culture but also of Australian beach-goers, or whether this is evidence that women are the new counter-culture of surfing: edgy, underground and unknown. What I do know is, and what I like to say in response is that yes, women surf much. Also, yes, surfing is male-dominated, but that despite this women are a vibrant, enthusiastic and dedicated membership of surfing contri…

More books less bombs.

Another piece of art that is not only thoughtful and gently political, but is beautiful as well.
(By johnny& stacie, but via design is mine).
In four beautifully typeset words, johnny&stacie capture so much of what is central within my own politics and aspirations. Historically books have been burned, outlawed, banned as political, threatening and shocking. They are difficult to produce, but are easy to literally and symbolically destroy.
For me, this statement - more books less bombs - is not necessarily about school or schooling, but is about education and broad thinking. What is particularly clever about the term 'books' here is that books today are about more than words on a page, but can be visual, colourful, artistic, aural and tactile. They can be hard-copy of course, but are also growing as an online, electronic resource too, which is allowing the growth of whole new multi-media options and imaginations. In this way, books evolve as educational, pleasurable and po…

Surf film stoke!

This weekend, I decided to take it a bit easy. I only worked a little and the work I did, I did from home. I drank a lot of wine and coffee, sat in the sun, met friends at the markets and picked up a dress I had on lay-by. It was wonderful. At one stage, I even found myself with a little extra time on my hands, so I pulled out my copy of Dear & Yonder and watched it, and realised that I'd forgotten how much surf films can be!
I forgot how much pleasure there is to be derived from watching footage of waves and boards and bodies and fun and colour and light and surfing. I'd forgotten how the feelings and memories and longing that this can all bring to the surface. I'd forgotten how nice it is see great footage of great surfing. Before I realised it, I'd sat through the whole thing!
So I'm back to being stoked on surf films (again).
And then I saw Clif's post over on Kurungabaa about a new film called Thirty Thousand: A surfing odyssey from Casablanca to Cape Tow…

Sunday morning coffee surf

My favourite things begin to meld into each other...


I had a day-dream recently. I was walking home along the river when an image, an event, filled my thoughts. It wasn’t a memory, more like a hypothetical…I was in my wetsuit, board under my arm, running down to the water. I could see the waves, long and perfectly formed, and was excited to get out there. I hurried down the shore and just as I felt the wet sand sink beneath my feet and the water wash around my ankles… I tripped on my leggie.One minute, I was running and smiling and excited, the next I was face down with a mouth full of sand and humiliation. The legrope was twirled around my ankles, stringing them together, binding me. My board was caught under my arm, the pressure pressing back on both my board and my shoulder. Creased? I tried to shift my arm. My hair was plastered across my eyes, there was a dull ache in my lower back. The water washed under me, filling my face with sand, sucking at my body. I lay there, still. Ashamed. Numb. All the excitement vanished. I knew the wa…

'MERZ' exhibition opening tomorrow night

Featuring Jeff Raglus, Ben Waters, Gerry Wedd and Chris De Rosa.
This is opening at the Nine Lives Gallery tomorrow night. If you're keen, you can RSVP on their Facebook page.
I am so there!

I'm really stoked to have just collaborated with Joni Sternbach on a submission for the online art journal, Trickhouse.
As you know, I am a massive fan of Joni's images, so to be invited to work with her was a real pleasure and something I'm quite proud of.
Anyway, you can check out Joni's photos and my essay, 'Across The Water', here at Trickhouse.


This morning I was drowning.

After my alarm woke me I had hit it off, rolled over and briefly fallen back asleep. According to my clock it was only for ten minutes, but in that small amount of time I was suddenly under water, under waves, held below, straining for air. Lost between sleeping, waking and surfing.

Somewhere, I knew I was dreaming. But I was mixed and confused and refusing to let go of it all. Somewhere, I was calming myself;

Just. Breathe. In.

But my dreaming mind and body was under water and flailing.

I never caught a wave, I never fell, but was simply under. The water was clear and white and fizzing around me. I was waiting for the pull of a leash on my leg, but it never came. I was waiting to hit the bottom to recoil and push towards the surface, but I never reached it. I was fighting against water that provided no resistance, no potential for power. In that irritating way of dreams, I was both doing and watching, drowning and observing, sinking and floating. I felt the wa…

Lines to the horizon...


Old mal, head-dip

Isaac Fields rips on an old mal.
Pic by Moonwalker, stolen from the Pacific Longboarder site.
Last year he won a 'move of the day' prize at the Noosa Festival for, what the certificate termed, an 'old mal, "air drop, floater"'.
He seriously loves riding these tricky boards, and does so with an enthusiasm that is reflected in his always broad smile. Sometimes I get to go surfing with him, and he is always having a great time, always stoked. (He also loves double-ups, Evans Head and food.)

Longboard Girls Crew

I just found this clip about the Longboard Girls Crew by Juan Rayos, over on The Endless Bummer (who found it elsewhere) and it absolutely, 100% made my day!
Carving the Mountains from Juan Rayos on Vimeo.
I don't know much about these women, but I'm looking forward to spending some time on their website to find out more about them.
So great!

Surfing, art and artefacts: asking coastal questions

Over the past few years, I have attended a lot of ‘surf art’ openings and exhibitions. A lot. Mostly they’re quite lovely and colourful and, well, surfy, but mostly I also walk away and don’t much think about them again. I don’t mean to say they’re not good, because they are and people are doing all sorts of awesome things using images of waves, boards, bodies, colours, clouds and the beach, but while they might make me smile or feel good,I suppose they never really teach me much, or make me ask questions. And that’s not a criticism so much as an observation, because making beautiful images, films and objects for their own sake is wonderful and I don’t necessarily want anyone to stop. But there are a growing number of surfy artists I have come to love, whose work is not ‘surf art’, but rather is ‘art about surfing’. The difference is that their work is more than textual, more than art for beauty’s sake, and engages in cultural questions and ugliness and critique.This ‘art about surfin…