Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Report: Bobby Brown's Triumphant Return

The Bobby Brown Exhibition
Reclaiming History

This month, set amongst the objects of our rapture, in the Surf World Museum at Currumbin on the Gold Coast, surfing heirlooms belonging to one of the sport's earliest stars, earmarked the location for the inaugural launch of the Bobby Brown Exhibition.

It was an amazingly refreshing night that signalled to me that a surfing legend of the '60s, Cronulla's Bobby Brown, had made his comeback onto the world class stage.

The four presenters; LtoR - Former '78 World Champion, Wayne 'Rabbit' Bartholomew, Bobby Brown's older brother,
John Brown, curator Andrew 'Andy Mac' McKinnon and surf artist, Garry Birdsall.
Bobby Brown was one of Australia’s leading surfers in the late sixties who tragically lost his life in a bar room incident. The signposts were clear and his career trajectory was obvious – there was a sure bet World Champion in the making. Fame was waiting in the wings. His sudden dispossession has haunted the surfing world for decades.

For the past forty odd years, his death has understandably been a loss far too sensitive to endure for close family and friends to deal with in the public arena. After three consecutive memorial surfing contests in his name, Bobby Brown’s history has been tucked into a self imposed hiatus ever since. For me, the unveiling of Andrew McKinnon’s Bobby Brown Exhibition is somewhat similar to a recording artist whose un-published and largely unknown or unheard work is finally being released to the public – years after his passing.

Recounting the good times, Bobby Brown
mentor and friend, Cronulla surf legend
himself, Garry Birdsall.
As his debut biographical offering, the Bobby Brown Exhibition has been skillfully and meticulously put together by former Gold Coast pro-surfer Andrew ‘Andy Mac’ McKinnon. Back in 1970, as a 16 year old young surfer, Andrew was the last winner of the Bobby Brown Memorial contest held in Cronulla.

Hauntingly, Andrew has had the perpetual trophy in his possession for some forty one years. The trophy, it turns out, was part of the spark that fuelled this fire.

The Exhibition launch night this month was co-hosted by former '78 World Champion, Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew, Bobby Brown’s older brother, John Brown, former Cronulla surfing legend and surf artist, Garry Birdsall and curator Andrew McKinnon.

The night at the Museum was splashed with an obvious dose of old hometown heroes. A lot of the old '60s Cronulla surfing underbelly were present. Mick Connally, Bob Halliwell, Dave Wilson, Frank Hales, Tommy Shipton, Alan Dorman, Mark Aprilovic. I also spotted a Cronulla surf star from a more modern era; Ross Marshall and the Gold Coast's, Cheyne Horan.

In a day and time in surfing where it appears professionals are filled with gargantuan egos, the presenters clearly illustrated to us that Bobby Brown was a young surfer not only full of natural ability and raw talent, but an abundance of humility and humanity.

Tearfully recounting old anecdotes and memories of times spent in the presence of a young energetic Bobby Brown, our story-tellers and co-presenters; older brother John Brown and surfing mentor Garry Birdsall - swayed the mood of the presentation evening from times of being somber and reflective, to other times to being joyous and rambunctious - somehow finding the delicate blend between humour and heartbreak.

Exhibition creator and curator, Andrew McKinnon
Following John and Garry’s time on the floor with the microphone in hand, a relaxed and very focused curator, Andy Mac delivered to the capacity crowd a stirring and deeply researched Power Point presentation of Bobby Brown's short lived, but highly successful life.

Highlighted with the screening of old Bob Evans rare 16mm footage, found on a rubbish tip, that featured Bobby Brown surfing Angourie with an equally skinny kid called Nat Young. To me, the footage underlined the fact that Bobby Brown was, at the time, the better and more promising surfer by far.

We also were treated to out takes from Paul Witzig’s 16mm movie 'The Hot Generation' of Bobby surfing Tallows at Byron Bay with Bondi's Kevin 'The Head' Brennan.

This uncompromising vision and looking glass into Brown’s surfing and personal life was complied with a startling intimacy. For me, McKinnon's presentation gave the exhibition its real soul.

What differentiates McKinnon from past surf biographers is his conviction that the historical surfing experience should be personal.

The depth of analysis, despite the sadness and the soul-searching that inspired it, of the Bobby Brown Exhibition is reflected as Andrew McKinnon’s best piece of work. Andy Mac has re-invented what a tribute to an outstanding young athlete, in this case a surfer – should be. The envelope is being pushed – in the all right directions.

The winner's names on the Bobby Brown Memorial
perpetual trophy - frozen in time for 41 years;
1968: Midget Farrelly
1969: Frank Latta
1970: Andrew McKinnon
There’s a freshness and innocence about the Bobby Brown Exhibition that makes it larger than the sum of its influences. After viewing it, I am now in two minds; I am not exactly certain if Bobby Brown was a dark horse or a shining light. Perhaps both.

Best go and see it for yourself.

The exhibition is currently at the Surf World Gold Coast Museum and into the new year, then it heads off to the Golden Breed store, Hastings Street, Noosa from March 12-20 for the Noosa Festival of Surfing 2011. Then it travels down South of the border, to Victoria, to the Surf World Torquay Museum during the planned festive celebrations to help commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Rip Curl Bells Beach Easter Classic on April 18-25th, 2011.

It's only fitting that the Bobby Brown Exhibition come home to roost in his old home stomping grounds - where it is certain to draw curious crowds and stir up some old wonderful memories. A venue for the Exhibition in the Cronulla area for sometime during 2011 is currently being negotiated.

Anyone who has any stories or particularly any photos or artifacts to contribute by way of loan to the Exhibition - we would love to hear from you.

Report & photos: Steve Core

Something to say or add? E-mail us at: swapsurf@gmail.com


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Environmentally Conscious Surfboards on Display

Environmentally Conscious Surfboards on Display

Promotional Poster
[click to enlarge]
The Surfrider Foundation will be hosting the opening night of the 2010 Kirra Surf Stock by featuring a unique showcase of environmentally conscious surfboards as part of their film and music night, at which Taylor Steele’s new 16mm surf film ‘Castles in the Sky’ will be playing.

The event will take place at the Rainbow Bay SLSC clubhouse on the Gold Coast, on Friday 12th November, 2010 - kicking off at 7pm.

Local surfboard shapers will have the opportunity to exhibit and promote their latest environmentally conscious shapes and designs. Big names such as Firewire, D’Arcy, Daniel MacDonald, Chris Garrett, and Patagonia plus many more have already committed to attend and display surfboards on the night.

Customers on the night will be able to get a first hand look at a grouping of innovative surf boards made from such recycled materials as; wood and bamboo and other alternative hi-tech materials, like carbon fiber, as compared to the standard traditional materials like polyurethane foam and fiberglass.

Consumers attending the event on the evening will be welcome to touch, interact and get the feel of the futuristic surfboards and also discuss designs, shapes and concepts with the board's shapers and creators.

WHEN: Friday 12 November, 2010
TIME: 7pm
WHERE: Rainbow Bay SLSC, Gold Coast
COST: $10


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Kirra Surf Stock 2010

If you're looking to kick back and relax by the ocean, take in the awesome sounds of some real smokin' bands and musicians, surrounded by the good vibes of surfing, beach babes, and oodles of sand and surf culture - all for free - then Kirra Beach, Queensland is the place to be on 12, 13 & 14 November, 2010.

Taking its name partly from the famous Music Festival held at Woodstock in rural, up-state New York in 1969; Kirra Surf Stock Festival originated just last year, 40 years after the original Woodstock Music Festival created event history during the hippie era.

The family friendly Kirra Surf Stock Festival 2010 is a non profit community based project that celebrates the surfing culture and other beach events while raising awareness of coastal management.

Kirra Surf Stock's first two events last year were; the 2009 Australia Day paddle out which attracted over 4000 concerned people to paddle out at Kirra on surfboards.

Its next event was the inaugural Kirra Surfstock Festival 2009 - which had a variety of activities over a 3 day period in November 2009.

Returning this year even bigger and better, with activities that will now include; two days of beach markets, free non-stop live music, and beach activities including an attempt on the Guinness World Record for the most number of surfers riding one wave, Junior Team surfing event, Stand Up Paddle racing, Surfboats, Beach Walking, Beach Soccer, Beach Volley Ball and Beach Rugby.

There is no charge for the community to enjoy the live music, the markets and all the other activities that the Kirra Surfstock Festival 2010 has to offer. Its all for free folks - a rare commodity these days.

The free musical line-up includes:

Saturday 13th November
Kandy McCouat
Tokyo Beef
Nyge Maunder
Kate Leopold and Sarah
Alan Boyle
Cupids Bullet
Band of Frequencies
Isaac Paddon and The Tides

Sunday 14th November
Chris Mallory
Karl Williams
The Lamplights
Adam Scriven
Gold Coast Surf Girl Quest
The Hayden Hack Infusion
Jack and The Giant Killers
Gavin Doniger’s Mescalito Blues

Kirra Surf Stock 2010 will also be the national launching point for the Bobby Brown Exhibition on Thursday 11th November at the Surf World Gold Coast Museum.

Hosting and MC duties for the Bobby Brown launch will be taken care of by curator Andrew 'Andy Mac' McKinnon and former World Champ, Wayne 'Rabbit' Bartholomew.

Apart from all the alluring Bobby Brown memorabilia and artifacts on display, his old surfing buddy from Cronulla, influential surf artist and a Cronulla surfing legend himself, Garry Birdsall has brought to life a special portrait of his old mate for the exhibition.

The public are more than welcome to attend the Bobby Brown opening night party at Surf World Gold Coast Museum starting at 6:30pm on Thursday 11th November, 2010. A $15.00 admission fee will include live music, light snacks, and a special presentation of Bobby Brown's remarkable life and surfing legacy.

Click here for: Kirra Surf Stock 2010 their website has loads more detail and info.