Inspiration is surely a strange thing. Recently at a surf market event in Byron, Paul McNeil artist in residence at ZED surfboards showed me their new Zed Knob vehicle. Sighting the obvious omage to Papa Nui I was quite flattered at this unique resin job with its recognizable military overtones. However as I was standing there, in my mindseye I instantly saw a sunbleached coral airstrip in the South Pacific and a row of battered and faded planes, weathered by the harsh light, salt and tropical rain. Each machine kept servicable by dedicated aviation mechanics who would salvage wrecks for usable parts to keep em flying in the most adverse of conditions. These 'frankenstein' warbirds would be ready at a moments notice to sweep the skies clear of Nippons finest. With this vision in my head I found the inspiration for board aesthetics to come. Im seeing my new craft in this light with Paul McNeil's 'panel-fade' art work. Perhaps its the Olive of a battered P-39 or the salt stained USN Grey of a motor patrol torpedo boat hiding up a mangrove tributary within stiking distance of the 'Slot'.
Sea Surfboards and the Cell space in Byron Bay's industrial area was for all but a brief moment the centre of surfing's alter universe. Riding high on the redefinition of old skool is the new skool or that there really isn't a skool at all, the Sea team, consisting of Dain Thomas, Matt Yates and Paul McNeil toyed with the concept that the surf vehicle can be a functional tool as well as a piece of art. Their hulled bottom single finned logs were nothing less than beautiful with a style, grace and aesthetic which to the appreciative eyed approached perfection. Alas all glory is fleeting and so with the demise of the original partnership a re-birth was conceived in the guise of ZED. Zed's mantra is to keep the concept tight with small runs of specialty products aimed at the discerning surfer. With a new team at the helm each partner brings talent and an entrepreneurial spirit to the fore front. Dain Thomas is the master shaper who learnt his craft under the tutorage of the legendary Bob McTavish. Paul McNeil is the art director with a high profile presence that stretches back to when Mambo was anything but an old fart joke. Today his signature splatter style resin board art has spread across the globe.Finally there's Brent Wayland with his model playboy goodlooks and talent for conceptualising a garment range that is the sartorial equivilent of Dain's boardshaping. This is Zed, follow them on facebook 'ZED surf' and hop on now before the bandwagon leaves the garage.
ZED selection, log, sea biscuit and zed knob.
Z-knob with a colour job that only the Papa could inspire.
John Swope was one of the first American photographers to land in Tokyo directly after the surrender of Japan in August 1945. His official assignment for the USN was to cover the release of allied prisoners from POW camps located around the Tokyo area, specifically Omori and then onto Nagoya and Sendai.His portraits show the special aura of the liberated GI's who were defeated but not destroyed.For the Papa these individuals, each with their own unique sense of personal style redefine the term 'grace under pressure'. POW MIA you are not forgotten.
'60 year old technology, contemporary application.' photo by Michael Sanglio via hydrodynamica.
In surfing I denounce the corporate that shapes the 'sport', pays for the performance and pushes the message that wins over the vulnerable and the unquestioning. In fashion it is much the same I distance myself from the seasonal rubbish and the homogenized cool. I make parallels here to both, because each is an extension of who I am and representative of my individuality. And yet we all must live in the moment and be a part of the greater experience of society. How then is this achieved and how is it possible to stay true to ourselves without disconnecting or going underground? I believe it's the ability to live in your own space and create a spacial awareness that is your own reality. Surfing for me is to feel a deeper connection, an awareness of it's rich cultural heritage. I see myself as a node on a tangent line that begins back in the Hawaiian islands at a time of Polynesian royalty and so I choose to ride boards whose designs break free of contemporary restraint, they are my instruments, freeform projectiles from which I create my own version of reality. Each board has it's own identity and idiosyncrasies and must be ridden in a certain manner, but all must be surfed in the conditions of the day amongst waves shared by other surfers. Even so, my boards and I exist almost exclusively in my own space as it's a reality that only I could create, a space every bit as individual and complex as myself. In this space I draw phosphorescence lines that leave a wake stretching back a millennium. I like it this way, it provides a purely individualist approach to something that is as common as high street fashion. It's my take, a projection of something deeper inside of me, it's my style and that's all that matters.
After wearing out several soft cover versions of my favourite book I finally secured a first edition hard cover of Tales of the South Pacific published in 1947. At the beach over the weekend Mrs Papa snapped this great little shot.
This forum is an opportunity for me to shoot shit on my favourite topics, namely surfing, board design, WWII military stuff, beachcombing and grass shack living and lets not forget vintage clothing and lots of other off beat and interesting stuff.
I would love to be able respond to your comments and views so please take the time to include your email address in any correspondence. Write me, firstname.lastname@example.org