Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bobby Brown: Back to the Heartlands

Bobby Brown Exhibition at Jackos

Part of the Exhibition in the Jackson Surfboards
showroom in Caringbah.
The Bobby Brown Exhibition yesterday returned to Brown's former mystical home at Jackson Surfboards showroom in Caringbah. The official unveiling launch yesterday, marked the start of the 10-day temporary exhibition.

This concept collective is set in a venue that has been a surfboard-maker's showroom for the last 48 years. Its daily role is normally an impressive collection of surfing memorabilia and accolades. Artifacts on display represent milestones to not only Bobby Brown, but fellow surfing luminaries and immortal Jackson stablemates like; Gordon Merchant [founder of Billabong], Laurie 'Froggy' Byrnes, the late Frank Latta and a host of others.

At a time when we all get hectored about lowering our expectations, surrendering our attention spans, and settling for less - a deeper look at the small Bobby Brown collection wants us to demand for more.

Even though as diverse as surfing is now, and being rather somewhat fractured with sub cultivations, it is worth noting that this exhibition, in this showroom, captures the sense of deep culture that embraces all surfers - no matter what they ride or how or when they rode it.

From left; Curator Andrew McKinnon, Steve Core
and veteran South Coast photographer Dave Milne.
The offering is the culmination of several years of research by self-recruited curator Andrew McKinnon. As the last winner of the Bobby Brown Memorial Contest in 1970 and holder of [what became] the perpetual trophy, Andy Mac was there yesterday to chair the floor, fill in any missing gaps and assist guide the launch.

Amid the distinctive special guests were Brian 'Jacko' Jackson, down from his semi-retirement home of Crescent Head. Founding Surfabout Magazine publisher, a doyen of '60s surf photographers, Jack Eden and his wife Dawn. Because of the strong, life-long connection of Jack Eden and Jackos, Eden's powerfully iconic images of Bobby Brown surfing were debuting to the public in this format for the very first time.

Amongst other special guests were Bobby's older brother John Brown and fellow Cronulla surfing great, now surf artist, Garry Birdsall. In his address to the gathering, John earnestly recounted great stories of growing up in an unremarkable Cronulla in the '50s and '60s. When the vast Kurnell peninsular sand dunes sprawled right down into Elouera Beach and there was a dairy farm close to the breaking waves.

Cronulla surfing legend, Garry Birdsall [left] and
Surfabout founding publisher, Jack Eden.
In summary, everyone seems to agree that Bobby Brown was a certain World Champion in the making. Nobody really says 'Number One'. Therefore; carefully not claiming any significant rating of who was the best, even though the deepening interest in old surfing is diverse, the idea of a numerical ranking is not hardwired into surfing's DNA.

There's a huge trust factor with many of Cronulla's old surfing guard and a small posse [that are still left in the Cronulla area] ventured out to pay homage at the exhibition and recount old times. I spotted Mark 'Bluey' Aprilovic, Bruce 'Fox' Hennesey, Andy Britton, John Coleman, Freddy Farmer, John Vass, John Veage, Chris Stroh, Greg McCarthy, Dave Milne, Jamie Hocking and Lazza Lane. Apologises to all those I don't know or didn't recognise.

Many thanks to our hosts; Jackson Surfboards owners since '97; Jim and Christina Parkinson and Dave Mattison

The Exhibition runs for the next 10 days and guess what, in this day of tightening purse strings in the community - it's totally free. No matter what label you ride or where your allegiances may lay, drop in and check it out and say Hi to the good folk at Jackos.

For an extensive photographic coverage of the launch festivities, see the Jackson Surfboards Facebook site.

All the photos in this report are courtesy of Jackson Surfboards.

Steve Core

If you like this you might also be interested in:
Huntington Beach Surfboard pioneer 'Gordie' passes away
Bobby Brown Exhibition launch on the Gold Coast - November 2010
PT's Seventies Sessions

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