Monday, 31 March 2008

Perfect Moments by Andy Davis

I’ve been looking a lot of surf art recently. Certain names keep cropping up and it’s not without good reason. The work of Andy Davis has particularly caught my attention and his website has some captivating images His pictures are magical and his self described style is "loose and dreamy, fun and fancy free the way I think we all should be.” For me, Andy Davis’ work is all about perfect moments.

At age 12 Andy first put a surfboard in the water and the world fell away “once I discovered surfing, I pretty much dropped everything else – except art.” His doodles and sketches are centred on surfing but also encompass "scenes of domestic bliss, and yearnings of adolescence, all filtered through pop art colours, bold lines, and an elegant simplicity that evokes simpler times, without sacrificing warmth and humanity."

As with all the really good art I enjoy, every time you look at it you see it in a different way. As Andy describes on his website his pictures create “A flush of emotion. A burst of happiness. The lure of adventure.” Andy’s work always starts with a sketch. He works with found objects as well as canvas, wood, silkscreen on textiles, paintings on surfboards, pen and ink and watercolour.

But possibly the reason I love his work most of all is the anonymity of the subjects. Again, on his website, he explains precisely why many of us find this so appealing. “You may notice none of the people have faces. But it’s really about the feeling. It’s your interpretation about what’s going on there… Maybe it’s me – maybe it’s you. And that’s it. You can take what you see and make up your own concoction…”

Saturday, 29 March 2008

The Art of Surfing

I was interested to find about a new show touring the country this year entitled 'an art history of British Surfing'. The exhibition has been put together by Brighton-based not for profit organisation, The Surfing Museum and is sponsored by the clothing company Oxbow and the Kind Design graphics team in North Devon.

The press release from the organisers reads:

Art and surfing have been inextricably linked for hundreds of years, and now a new exhibition looks at how both these elements combined to glide into British consciousness over the past few centuries.

From early sketches of surfers during the voyages of Captain James Cook in the 18th century and iconic hand sculpted wooden surfboards, to the flower power of the 1960s and garish fluorescent colours of the 1980s – paintings, posters, photography and film – ‘an art history of British surfing’ is a visual feast.

“Surfing is part of everyday culture in the UK today, it’s imagery is the marketing person’s dream come true,“ said director of The Surfing Museum, Peter Robinson. “It is something that has always captured the public’s imagination, probably because of its innovation, free flowing form and laid back lifestyle.”

On display will be original British surfboards dating back almost a century featuring art and sculptural form. It will be complemented by an eclectic mix of memorabilia showing amazing artwork from the creative minds of surfers and those drawn to this ancient pastime.

The next stop on the UK tour is Red House Museum in Christchurch - May 3rd to June 14th 2008

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Happening in Cornwall

I was a little overexcited to discover that this year The Happening is coming to Cornwall. The event will feature a select group of artists and photographers exhibiting work based in contemporary beach and street cultures followed by acoustic music performances by Matt Costa, Will Conner, Andrew Kidman & more.

As well as an unmissable opportunity to view original works of art by such some of the biggest names in the creative surf world such as Wolfgang Bloch, Jenny Bowers, Thomas Campbell, Jeff Canham, Joe Curren, Andy Davis, Harry Daily, Andrew Kidman, Alex Knost and Alex Kopps, to name but a few, the musical line up is great too.

I first saw Matt Costa perform live at a Jack Johnson concert in 2006 and was lucky enough to catch him again at his intimate Shepherds Bush Hall gig. The new album builds on his captivating debut and makes a perfect soundtrack to the exhibition.

Helping to raise money for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as well as a number of other non-profit organisations, The Happening is a collaboration between Brushfire Records, The Surf Gallery and Woodshed Films, the creators of The Moonshine Festival. The first event took place at Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach, Calif. in January 2007, followed by a second show at Milk Gallery in New York City.

This is the first time The Happening has travelled outside of the USA and the stop in Cornwall on 4 July is the third location on a world tour that has already taken in Bondi Beach and will also visit Tokyo, Paris, New York and San Francisco. Timed to take place during the same week as Jack Johnson's Watergate Bay gigs on the 5 an 6 July I wouldn't be surprised if Jack makes an appearance on stage as he did earlier this month in Australia.

Having seen the video that was uploaded to the event website late last week and also on YouTube I can't wait to be a part of it when it visits Newquay this summer.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Club of The Waves

Early on in my explorations I came across the Club Of The Waves website This virtual surf club is home to a seriously talented collection of surfers, surf artists and photographers from every corner of the world. There is a great list of profiled artists and photographers, the largest I have so far found on the internet. You can also read articles on the history of surfing, its pioneers and heroes and the culture associated with the sport.

The website profiles over 100 different artists and has some amazing images that I whiled away a few hours browsing. Artists on the site that caught my eye include Cornish artist Lamorna Penrose, American, David Bogart from New Jersey, Celine Chat from France and Calfornian painter Jeff Yeomans to name but a few. There are some articles written by artists such as Spencer Reynolds as well as interviews with Ron Croci and Wolfgang Bloch.

In addition to being a goldmine of info with links to various artist homepages it also has a forum section. The topic 'what is surf art' interested me most. Can non-surfers be good surf artists? Can people who don't surf have a true appreciation for surf art? Why are the majority of paintings depicted from the perspective of the observer on the shore rather than the surfer? It set me thinking. What makes good surf art? For me, it has to convey the emotion, whether that be joy, exhiliration, awe, anticipation or elated exhaustion. A picture that transports you into the moment, one that conjures up the smell of the saltwater and and feel of the sea breeze.

Here's to finding as much of it as I can.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Paddling Out

So here they are... the first words of the first post of my first ever blog. This is a blog about surf culture - art, photography, literature, music and lifestyle. What qualifies me to write on the subject - nothing in particular. The coast, the beach, the sea and the waves have always been a big part of my life and although I can't claim to be a surfer (of any talent or dedication whatsoever) I continue to be endlessly fascinated by the sport and I have experienced the thrill of it, the joy you get from it, I understand the passion people have for it and the neverending adventure there is to be had on the journey to find the 'perfect' wave.

I first became introduced to the term 'surf culture' whilst working at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth. In 2005 the museum hosted the largest ever dedicated surfing exhibition in the UK. Displaying boards, wetsuits, posters, films, photographs and artwork it was an impressive collection of memorabilia and was the starting point for my desire to learn more about the history of the sport, the personalities who have become important along the way and how it has spread in popularity around the world.

This is a blog about the culture surrounding the sport, its purpose is to document events, festivals, exhibitions, books, other blogs, artists, musicians, surfers, manufacturers and retailers that interest me and inspire me and reflect the love I have for the sport of surfing and the coast. So this is me, paddling out into the unknown, starting to discover more about surfing and to uncover just a few of the talented artists and individuals whose life is ruled by the waves.