The Wooden Surf Flower09 . 09 . 19
Our Annual Gathering of Makers event has come, over the years, to feature an exhibition of artworks alongside all of the attendees’ wooden surfboards at the evening of food and music that rounds out the Saturday. Amongst the “alumni” of our make-you-own wooden surfboard courses are several professional artists, and earlier this year one of them, our friend Ben Cook, stopped by the workshop to talk to us about an idea that he’d had.
Ben is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work falls into the category of “surf art”; he has a background in fine art but over the years, since moving to Cornwall, the influence of his lifestyle as a surfer has become more and more dominant in his work. In 2015 Ben exhibited his Surfing Landscapes series at the AGM, a set of pencil sketches of familiar scenes from 33 of the “main” surf spots in Cornwall but, rather than depicting the beach or waves, he focused on the moment of maximum anticipation right before the line-up comes into view. Much of his art delivers an environmental message, and he often uses scraps of neoprene from old wetsuits or foam from broken surfboards. Ben’s popular Surf Flower series highlighted the toxic nature of surfers’ equipment, collaging images of regular foam surfboards as the petals of a flower. Ben’s idea, that he had whilst picking up a set of Surf Flower prints from the fine art printers next-door to us, was to create a wooden surfboard flower using all of the boards made on our workshops, and to unveil it at this year’s AGM.
We sent Ben all of the “end of week” portraits that we have taken in front of our big blue wooden doors (and photos of finished boards from the first few workshop courses before we moved here) and his son Radley, who’s just graduated with a 1st class honours degree in Creative Media Design from Bristol UWE, painstakingly cut out the surfboards in Photoshop, removing any traces of fingers, arms and clothing obstructing the boards, and recorded whose surfboard belonged to who, ready to print. Each individual surfboard (100 in total) was then printed onto thick recycled paper and labeled before Ben cut them out.
Ben took a flake of paint from the workshop door and had it colour matched so that he could get a tin of the same colour paint for the back-board of the collage. The colour scheme of the organic, wooden tones of the surfboards against the blue-green of our workshop doors is one that’s familiar to everyone who’s made a surfboard with us, and Ben felt that the contrast would work well for this piece. He painted a large panel of wood, and then began the process of laying out surfboards in a circular fan, shuffling, moving and rearranging until he’d achieved the look and balance of tones and shapes that he wanted. Before gluing them all down, he and Radley noted which board was where in the surf flower so that when it’s shown at the AGM the attendees will be able to work out which surfboard is theirs using a key, if they don’t recognise it straight away.
The final wooden surf flower is 80cm square, with a beautiful and realistic 3D effect thanks to the thickness of the recycled card used. We made a custom frame for the surf flower that would compliment the art work, using offcuts of cedar and poplar.
The wooden surf flower is available to purchase as a 50cm x 50cm print on fine art German etching paper, with a limited edition run of 100 – one print for each of the surfboards that it's comprised from. Prints cost £150 (plus postage and packaging) with a proportion from each sale being donated to Surfers Against Sewage to help fund their important work safeguarding the marine environment. The first numbered and signed prints were available to purchase on the evening of this year's Annual Gathering of Makers (this coming Saturday) and you can order one from our website here.