The bullshit of art

Words by Erin Molloy / Photos By Paris Hawken

Sitting casually lighting a cigarette, Jack Bromell reflects a thought and quiet confidence beyond his 24 years.

The self-taught Busselton-based artist abandoned his love of drawing for a while, ‘due to the pull of teenage hormones and the interests that came with them’.

The next interruption came in the form of an architecture degree, but Jack soon realised that even the lure of job security was not worth the drudgery of a nine to five existence. 

Read more in : The Elements Journal Print Edition.

Off the grid

Words By Anthony Pancia / Photos By Mark Boskell

Like most great ideas, the inspiration for Fair Harvest came to Jodie Lane out of sheer necessity.

For years beforehand, she had pursued and engaged in environmental activism, while establishing a base camp for fellow protestors on a corner of her parents’ sprawling farm in Margaret River.

While actively encouraging their daughter’s ideals, Mr and Mrs Lane began to get a bit concerned about the number of cars and campers who’d set up on the block, and gently urged her to do something about it.

Read more in : The Elements Journal Print Edition.

 

Board shaper, honey maker

Words by Anthony Pancia / Photos By Russell Ord

For someone with a deep obsession for all things surf, it’s slightly surprising it took so long for Gary Bennett to turn his hand to making surfboards.

Intricately designed and crafted, Gary’s timber surfboards look good on a wall, but perhaps more importantly, they work well in the water too.

The boards are the result of a collaboration with respected shaper, Jim Banks and Gary’s business partner, David Paris.

“I’ve always loved the sculptural form of surfboards and I guess what really got me into having a crack at making one was my friendship with Jim Banks, who is a passionate woodworker and loves making guitars and all that sort of stuff out of wood,” says Gary.

Read more in : The Elements Journal Print Edition.

 

 

THE SHED THAT MAURICE BUILT

STORY: ANTHONY PANCIA

PHOTOS; RUSSELL ORD

IT looks, sounds and smells exactly like a shaper’s factory should. A maze of bays, back rooms and racks of second hand boards stacked alongside shiny new ones.

Out front, a television plays an endless loop of vintage surf movies while the walls are covered in postcards, pin up girls and dusty old photos of locals charging big waves. And if the walls of Nathan Rose and John “Duttsy” Dutton’s Margaret River shed could talk, they would sound a lot like Maurice Cole.

The enigmatic shaper built the shed in 1995, partly to cope with the demands of his then busy export market.

“I had a very big contract with Japan for nearly 1000 boards a year,” says Cole.

“I had that factory fitted out as state of the art and I was there for about six years.”

And it was in that factory that Cole set to work shaping boards for a keen young grommet named Taj Burrow.

“I was introduced to Taj and his parents by (filmmaker) Jack McCoy,” recalls Cole.

“I saw how he surfed with beautiful style and presence and well he could ride the barrel I agreed to manage him and make his boards.”

The factory was home to many of Cole’s early design breakthroughs and ground zero for the new buzz sport of tow surfing.

“Many of those breakthroughs were and still are the foundation of what I am doing now.”

“The waves in Western Australia really let me loose, especially with the guns and those early tow boards. It was amazing to see how big a wave we could ride on such relatively tiny boards. A lot of the bombies around Margaret River were a favourite testing ground.”

But the one constant between those early years and 2015 is very apparent come Friday afternoon.

“All the locals were keen for a beer,’’ says Cole.

“I’m so stoked to see the boys continuing the surfboard culture and are keeping it real.”

For more of Anthony’s work go to www.byanthonypancia.com

 

 

 

ANDREW SEMARK - PHOTOGRAPHER

Interview: Russell Ord

Photos: Andrew Semark

Andrew Semark has recently returned from Norway with his beautiful family and is exhibiting his recent work in the “Surface Collective” which is an emerging group of talented photographers, illustrators and artists from the Margaret River / Dunsborough region.

Elements: The emergence festival has just wrapped up and the opening night of the exhibition was held at Xanadu Wines with a number of amazing creative’s from the South West, how was the night?

Andrew: The night was insane, It exceeded my expectations big time, We had a great turn out and I had some really good feedback from the images I showcased. I got to meet a lot of great people over the night and seeing the other artists do really well was great to see.

Elements: You have been concentrating on photographing the Ocean over the last few years, how did the change come about for your latest body of work?

Andrew: I went back to what first got me amped in photography which was landscapes. A trip to New Zealand when I was 15 is what started it all. Shooting on my folks film camera and being in such a beautiful place is where it began. Then being blessed to go on a trip to Norway with the family gave me a clear direction on my next series of images. I was pretty nervous moving away from the ocean images which has been my main focus for some time now but I’m stoked I did it.

Elements: It must be amazing to travel with the family and share all those moments, any crazy experiences on the trip?

Andrew: The whole trip blew my mind. A lot of people thought we were crazy taking 2 young children half way across the world to shoot photos but the experiences are something that will live with me forever and hopefully the kids also. From standing under the Northern lights in -15 degree temperatures to jumping in freezing cold fjords the whole trip was filled with moments that were unforgettable. The best thing is having my family there to experience it all by my side.

Elements: Your beautiful daughter is the star attraction in your recent works, what’s the idea or concept behind this?

Andrew: Everything about Norway is big and it is hard to express in an image just how small you feel. That’s where Isla came in. She is a more than willing model and has a good thirst for adventure herself. She would happily stand in freezing temperatures until I got the right shot and having her involved gives her a sense of purpose in the project as well. Having her in the photos brings a sense of scale and warmth and a sense of wonderment that only a child has.

Elements: Norway is a massive trip, what gear did you take on the journey and why?

Andrew: Norway was a massive trip so it’s best to be prepared, I took my full kit – back up body, filters, tripod, lenses. About 25kg worth of gear, but you need it.

Elements: Among your works from the trip, which one stands out personally for you?

Andrew: Probably the biggest standout was the image of Isla standing on the rocks in front of the mountain and there was a perfect reflection. The location was just on the side of the road, we waded through waist deep snow and there wasn’t a breath of wind. You shoot these photos and you can’t believe what comes out on the back of your screen. It just seems surreal.

Elements: What’s one piece of equipment you wish you had on the journey?

Andrew: Better socks! My feet were freezing.

 Elements: What first drew you to taking images in Norway?
 Andrew: I did a trip to Iceland in 2014 and fell in love with the ruggedness of the landscape. I knew I had to bring my family to this part of the world and so the decision was made to go to Norway. There are places in the world that make you feel so small and are so different to what I am used to it makes shooting images really interesting and refreshing.

Elements: What do you think makes a memorable landscape image?

Andrew: I guess being able to draw the viewer into the photo to make them feel like they’re standing there themselves. Or to inspire a sense of adventure that makes people want to book a ticket and experience it for themselves.

Elements: What do you think the viewers take away from your work?

Andrew: I hope that people take away that sense of wonder, that innocent childhood adventurous spirit that is unmarred by adulthood.

Elements: Was there any difficulties regarding shooting in Norway? No doubt it was extremely cold.

Andrew: The biggest difficulty I faced was the cold. Your feet and hands feel like they are going to snap off at times. Batteries fail pretty quickly in the minus temperatures. Wading through snow up to your chest to get to the next location isn’t the most ideal situation but it’s all good when you get back to the warm van.

Elements: Who are some of the photographers that may have influenced your work, and how did they influence you?

Andrew: So many people these days are producing incredible work and you can take bits and pieces from everyone. Guys like Chris Burkard, Felix Inden. Guys close to home like Russell Ord who has always helped me out, Chris Gurney, Steve Wall and Mark Clinton, the list is endless. Especially the guys that I am exhibiting with are all big time inspirations to see them pushing their boundaries and creating some amazing artwork.

Elements: What are the advantages and disadvantages of exhibiting in collaboration?

Andrew: This being my first collaboration it has been a big learning curve. I’ve really enjoyed having the support of the other artists and supporting them on their journeys also. At this point, no disadvantages so yahoo.

Elements: Who is another creative in the collective exhibition that you admire?

Andrew: It is hard to pick just one because they all have done so well. Personally for me, I really enjoyed Paris Hawken’s exhibit. She works so hard at what she does and has a real unique take which I love. She is definitely going to do well in future.

Elements: What are your thoughts on shooting individually versus shooting with friends or small groups?

Andrew: I think they both have their benefits. Sometimes shooting solo you can go a little bit crazy not knowing if you’re producing good images but sometimes being alone your imagination can help you create your best work. Shooting in groups or with friends gives you opportunity for feedback and a second opinion that you might not have thought of.

Elements: How has social media played a part in your photography?

Andrew: Social media is a double edged sword. Its great to have a platform for people to see your work but it’s easy to hide behind a computer and let it dictate how you feel about your work. That’s why the surface exhibition has been so good just to bring an outlet for aspiring artists and thanks to all for coming down and checking it out.

See more of Andrews Work: website.

COWARAMUP SKATE MURAL

Last week, Cowaramup Skate Park got a new mural, painted by local kids under the artistic guidance of Perth-based urban artist George Domahidy. 

We asked Molly Ryan, Community Development Trainee at the Shire of Augusta Margaret River, to tell us a little about the project.

"It wasn't until I swapped my paintbrush for an aerosol can that I realised the skill and physicality required to produce street art. Working with well-known street artist George Domahidy and his spray painting companion Scott Hitchcock, a street artist who has been working in the creative hub of Brooklyn, New York, was an experience in itself."

“As this project was part of our youth engagement program, involving local youth was really important.  A little practice and skill-building was done while designing some preliminary pieces, followed by a brainstorming session. Those who attended were asked to sketch iconic symbols that they thought were specific to Cowaramup and these designs were then incorporated into the final mural.”

“Day two of painting was welcomed with the stencils drawn by George and Scott (inspired by the drawings done by the group of young artists) that would soon become our finished piece. Watching George and Scott so confidently bring our block colour art work to life with black spray paint was mesmerising and showcased their highly developed skills.  Projects like this allow youth to differentiate between urban art and graffiti while expressing themselves. The artwork adds colour and creativity to the space however amplifies the ambience of the skate park.”

– Molly Ryan.

All Photos: Mark Boskell

MOANA

MOANA

PHOTOS AND STORIES; PARIS HAWKEN

I recently spent a day with Fremantle based band Moana in the lead up to one of their gigs. I was interested to see what the preparation process would be like for a group of artists such as these guys, and so played the roll of "fly on the wall with a camera" for a few hours (one of my favourite past times). Moana are well known on the Perth music scene for their hypnotic and seductive gothic rock music, and to see them perform live is just something else - I don't think I've ever been quite so mesmerised before. Here is a little visual story about a band called Moana.
"The most interesting thing about artists is how they live." - Marcel Duchamp

“Bandits, we are set loose from the prison cell howling to the mountain’s of the other worlds. Silver, gold, colour, chaos, rainbow, rat life is a dress up party surround yourself with beauty they say, but what is beauty? There is beauty in something pretty. Something safe. Something of exquisite taste. But there is beauty in sorrow, in hatred, in rage, in hell, in darkness, in death, in where the angel fell… We are the scream of a banshee. A naughty, dark fairy. Shrieking, feisty, fiery IGNITE ME. The world is asleep and we are the fight. The seductive growl that makes you queasy… A look in the eye that makes you uneasy… It’s more than just music, more than just sounds. It’s the peculiar poetry, from the dreaming underground. The witch of the wilds sits still in the storm with her eyes ablaze in the passing of days. Hypnotizing little heart breakers, with the animal soul. Craving freedom and art, from the pit of the heart. When the wolfmoon is full and the stars are alight, there’s a spell cast over you in the velvet midnight. We are tongues, we are lips – eyes whispers Cleopatra’s hips. It’s seduction, it is sex, in a quivering reptilian quest. TASTE US. Little snake. Not just the physical shape of our scales and hot/cold blood but taste this LIVING BREATHING mess of passion and feeling. My love I long to be complete – to be whole, to be wrapped in the wings of the eternal soul. I am the life, the lust. But remain forever lost. Sleepless celebrations of sadness, dance me to a twisted madness. Adorn me with flowers and a spark of fire, with water and a thread of the witch’s wire. I will be a warrior. I will be a warrior. And immortal, we burn. Waiting for the forgotten worlds to return.” – Moana

THE ART OF ALICE

Photos & Interview by Tom Pearsall

Alice Linford Forte is a local artist, working from her studio on a farm in an idyllic Margaret River setting. She is participating in this year's Margaret River Open Studios event, running until Sunday April 24. Photographer Tom Pearsall caught up with her, talked art & life, and took a few snaps.

Where did you grow up? How did this shape who you are?

I grew up in Margaret River on a farm just south of Witchcliffe. Both mum and dad were self employed and creative in their own right, and were very supportive of a career in the arts, always encouraging me to pursue it.

Have you lived anywhere else, and how has this experience shaped who you are today?

From the age of 17, I lived in various parts of Australia from Fremantle to Karratha to Byron Bay to Melbourne. After that I spent several years in England and Morocco, to where I find myself today based out of Indonesia. These experiences have instilled a confidence to pursue new things, maintain an open mind and to take risks.

What is your favorite place to find peace and clear your head?

At home on the farm tends to be the place where I always return after my travels, provide a reflection point and a nurturing base to regroup before the next adventure. 

What is your favorite place to stimulate your creativity?

 On the road, travelling to places off the beaten track like India, Morocco, and Indonesia. Also certain European cities like Granada, Sicily and Bristol.

If you lose your creative energy or run into a block how do you overcome it?

Best thing is to step away from the studio and take a break for anywhere between 3 days to weeks. Normally this would involve a short holiday somewhere. 

In your opinion what is your largest achievement in terms of art?

There isn’t any one thing that stands out, but what Im most proud of is the way strangers connect to me through my art, feel inspired and derive enjoyment out of something I created.

Where has your work been displayed?

 Various cafes in Bristol and London. A big resort in Morocco. Wineries, cafes and bars in Margaret River and most prominently in the Margaret River Gallery.

Would you describe art as more work or play for you?

I like to think of it as play and maintain a playful approach but with it being my fulltime job and prices increasing I do take it seriously, using only the best canvases/paints, engaging professional stretchers/framers and feedback from past and present clients.

What are your favorite materials to work with?

 Oil on canvas, although lately I’ve returned to water colors as a fun side project, and experimenting with mixed media. 

How would you describe your art in three words?

 Vibrant – evocative – dramatic.

Is there a defining moment when you realised you wanted to pursue a career in art?

When I was living in London I finally took the plunge with my first collaborative exhibition in Bricklane. It was the first time I’d ever put my work out on display to the general public and although not a huge commercial success the reaction was so encouraging it cemented in me a decision to pursue it as a fulltime job and 6 months later I did my first solo exhibition in Margaret River.

You and I recently collaborated to create a fusion of fine art and photography. Tell us a little about this?

When you approached me with the idea, it immediately grabbed my interest. That was to print select moody surf shots onto wood and have me paint over the top. 

What are your thoughts on the end result? Where do they fit in the world of art?

I’m extremely proud of how they came out. They’re visually exciting and very different evoking strong responses from those who have seen them. 

Like any new idea it’ll take time to find its niche but with the response from the Xanadu exhibition so strong I’m confident and eager to see it evolve.

Lunar Circus

By Mark Boskell

The WA Circus Festival is on again this weekend. I got my first taste of the festival last year whilst photographing it for Margaret River Tourism and was blown away by the vibe of the whole thing and the amazing acts. Another great international event happening right here in our backyard. I asked the gang at Lunar Circus a few quick questions about what's in store this year.

 For those that haven’t attended before, how would you describe the festival?

It's a 3 day event that happens just out of Karridale, south of Margaret River. There are shows running from midday to midnight on all 3 days. There are circus, comedy and cabaret shows from around the world. There are big shows, small shows, funny shows and moving shows, shows by international performers and shows by Australian performers, award-winning shows and debut shows, in fact there are shows for everyone. There is even the Circus Olympics! It's amazing what these people can do. There is a dedicated kids big top with workshops all day as well as great music, great food, market stalls, several bars, camping and Australia's longest high wire walk!

Live bands and DJ’s play for most of the day and take you dancing late into the night. There are several bars around the site, including some that open during particular shows such as the Adults Only Late Night Cabaret.

There’s a delightful feeling about the festival. Everyone is happy, relaxed and having a great time. People always tell us, “I had no idea what to expect but this is absolutely amazing!” 

How do you put together the programme and find all the performers for the festival?

The festival director Matt Yates is responsible for putting together the programme. He attends festivals throughout Europe during our Australian winter and meets a lot of performers there. He invites the good ones!

Performers who have been here previously spread the word everywhere they go, both in Australia and overseas, therefore we also receive a lot of applications via our online performer application.

Matt reviews all the applications, which takes a long time, then selects a good mix for the festival. We like to have something for everyone.

What shows are you most looking forward to seeing this year?

William the Great is performing exclusively at our festival. They’ve put together a really fabulous show but once our festival is finished their troupe will disband. We’ve seen a preview and we like it a LOT so we’re excited about this show.

Chris Lynam is hosting a couple of late night cabarets and also has his own solo show. He’s a comic genius so he is definitely on our must see list. The things he says are completely unexpected and we’ve already seen our pre-festival cabaret audiences in tears with laughter.

What’s the most daring or dangerous performance at the festival?

The High Wire Act is pretty dangerous, especially if it’s windy. The performers are 10m above the ground and they’re not harnessed to any kind of safety belt. It’s the longest high wire walk in Australia.

A lot of the acts have an element of danger, it’s part of the nature of the genre. Circus performers can and do break bones and/or end up in wheelchairs. We’ve had some close calls here over the years but thankfully nothing really serious.

And the most technical or difficult?

Contemporary jugglers are pushing new boundaries of technical expertise. The really good young jugglers devote their whole life to their skill, and the nature of the juggling community is such that they inspire and push each other to invent new, extraordinarily difficult tricks. They attend juggling conventions all over the world where they juggle for 12-14 hours a day - learning, sharing and totally nerding out on juggling. The things these youngsters do are completely out of reach to the average professional juggler that’s been making a living from his craft for decades. 

You have a campground on the property, what happens when the kids go to bed?

We are becoming famous for our Adults Only Late Night Cabaret, and for very good reason. Where else will you see a performer play the recorder with her vagina? Fanny farts have never been put to such good use.

We always think that people miss out if they don’t stay till the end of the programme. A lot of our really great acts are on after the kids go to bed, for obvious reasons.

Best way to experience the festival?

The late night is where things really come alive , so get right into it by camping for the full 3 days. There is nothing better than being able to wander back to your tent after watching the late shows. The stars shine brightly and the sound of music and revelry gradually fade into the background as you approach your camp. You’ve had a few drinks, you’ve laughed yourself sick, and you don’t have to drive anywhere. Everything feels right with the world.

In the morning you wake up and you’re living at the circus. The performers you’ve seen the night before are sitting around eating breakfast and you can grab a coffee and join them for a chat. 

Any interesting stories from previous years?

We’re pretty excited about our brand new big top. We’ve called it the Lunar Sensation and it’s twice as big as our other big top. It will fit more people into the really popular shows, including the Late Night Cabaret. It was manufactured in Nannup, naturally. Where else would you go to get a massive new big top?

We seem to be a gestation hub for relationships – we’re losing count of the number of people that have found the love of their life at our festival! We have a month long training project that happens before the festival and we find that living and working together has a way of bringing people together. 

SUNDAY LINEUPS

The day after the day of all days, why is there no lineups of Big Saturday you may be wondering? 

The so called photographer in question would rather surf than pull out his camera and take photos is the simple answer. Surf may be a big call also, avoiding bombs on the outside reefs would be more the case. Gray, Boatramp Mick and Big wave Dave (making this up as I go) managed a couple of crazy waves on the back bubble with local ding repair guru and big wave charger Dutzy taking a dive to the bottom, ripping out his legrope plugs, swimming to shore, repairing his own board and paddling back out for the arvo session – great effort.

Topping that is reports of James “The Pom” Hick hitching a ride to paddle Cow Bombie on his own with a handful of tow teams buzzing around. James managed a few waves before a 20 foot plus wave caught him out of position, lucky for him he was born with gills and can breath hold for 5 minutes. Local surf photographer Jamie Scott milked the cow so to speak, capturing some of the biggest waves of the year and no doubt we will have to wait patiently for the print versions. Carpark talk is that Mick Corbett was backdooring 30ft plus waves… crazy day and we look forward to seeing the results.