Wavescape Art Board Project 2019 and more…
It has been a year of interesting and creative experiences with those who share our love for the ocean. We hosted a beach cleanup this year at Strandfontein and rewarded volunteers that joined the cleanup and that converted their “trash into treasure” with previously loved, donated clothes, books and shoes that we had collected. We also hosted a “Beneath the Surface” evening on 23 November of stories with sights and scenes from the oceans and pools around Cape Town. On 6 December we will be screening Plastic China at our movie night – be sure to join us. Tickets can be purchased via the Labia’s Webticket account. And, of course, there is the Wavescape Art Board Project.
This is the 16th year of the Wavescape Art Board Project, which has raised R7 million for ocean safety and marine conservation since inception in 2005. There has been a significant increase in the amount of funds raised in the last three years. Shani Judes, the curator of the auction, is feeling her usual sense of nervousness and excitement. She says, “We never know what we are going to get back from artists nor how the buyers are doing each year, it is often a guessing game on how each year will do, all I can hope for is that there are good purchases so we can support the beneficiaries.“
The Beach Co-op is one of seven organisations that will receive funds from the 11 surfboards auctioned. We love being involved with the Wavescape Surf and Ocean Festival – it’s a great way to share the “stoke” and love for our oceans and collaborate on the need to protect it.
We were keen to chat to some of the amazing people that created the art on these boards. We asked Grace Cross, Lucie de Moyencourt, Michael Chandler and Heath Nash: “what connection do you have with the ocean or water, and how did this influence what you depicted on the surfboard?”
Grace feels deeply connected to the ocean and water: “It is life-sustaining, and provides access to nature as well as so your inner spirituality being surrounded by it. I wanted to transform my board into a larger than life Tarot card (The Chariot card), with both a painted front and back. Your surfboard is the way you can channel the ocean, and like a Chariot it is the vessel that guides you through the waves. I packed my board with symbolism, like the two hands emerging from the water at the top of the board that hold up seven fingers (the Chariot card is the seventh card), or the repeated use of the third eye that speaks to the importance of our intuitive knowledge, to which the ocean awakens us.”
Lucie and Michael both spent time at the seaside from a young age. “My connection with the ocean began in rock pools on the Wild Coast where I grew up. I have always loved nature and used to think of the rocks as one large fish tank that I could play in,” says Michael. Lucie exclaims that “Well, as a child, I always hoped I could change into a mermaid and swim all day! It’s still my big dream! My family has a small beach cottage at Cape Infanta and all our holidays were beach holidays with lots of swimming and lots of shell collecting from the seashore. Our whole family loves the ocean and beaches, most of all my famous cousin Matt Bromley AKA Bromdog!”
Lucie de Moyencourt
Heath and the Our Workshop team started their process by thinking about the ocean, but considering the time they had to adorn the board and the material they had to use. This all dictated an approach that was bold, pattern-based and co-designed rather than thematic.
The artists’ sense of familiarity with the ocean – its power and the dramatic and joyous scenes that unfold – is captured on all of these fantastic art boards. We wanted to know more from each artist.
We noted to Grace that her piece was relevant to our current situation and role as females in a male-dominated society and asked: What message did you want conveyed through your piece? We particularly liked the reference to ‘New Moon’ because we clean Surfers Corner at Muizenberg every new moon.
I painted a female figure that is riding the board, transfigured with third eyes and detached limbs. The figure, like the significance of the figure in the Chariot Card is forward facing, determined, ambitious and represents overcoming obstacles in her way. I wanted to represent a powerful female energy on the board in the midst of so much violence perpetrated against women in our society. Being a new mother, I also wanted the figure and her breasts to be exposed, exclaiming her animal nature proudly and without shame. We need to stand our ground and proclaim our feminism loudly to garner greater safety for all. The back of the card/surfboard has a painted red tide of waves, and at the bottom, the words New Moon are painted. The ocean’s tides are guided by the moon, so I wanted to pack my board with symbolism from the astrology calendar. The cyclical nature of the moon is also historically linked to a women’s menstrual cycle. The new moon is a very spiritually important day where one can set intentions for the new cycle and wipe the slate clean. In painting my board, I wanted it to embody the spirit of the Chariot, moving forward and overcoming with determination and strength!
We loved the playful feel of Lucie’s art board with its illustrations of different beach scenes. We asked her: Are these scenes you have observed and why did you choose to depict them specifically? Which is your favourite scene?
Thank you! All of the scenes on my board are imagined, but all of them are also memories of moments witnessed on beaches: kids dropping ice cream, people rubbing cream on each other, someone getting buried in sand… but my favourite is the crocodile lilo. I love a croc lilo.
Michael’s mash-up of the iconic Delft technique and the equally iconic Great Wave is fabulous. We asked him to tell us more about why he chose this composition?
The Wild Coast didn’t earn that name for nothing and so I’ve always been aware of its power – something that I hope I’ve conveyed by treating the board like a priceless, over-sized vase and painting on it a large wave, which is a reference to the famous “Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Hokusai, a Japanese artist from the 19th Century. For what it’s worth my image has nothing to do with Delft – it’s a mistake that South Africans love to make when they see blue and white decoration. My work is enormously inspired by Asian ceramics, which were traded in ships that sailed around our coast and oftentimes were destroyed by the ocean. As a child I used to collect the fragments of shipwrecked porcelain from the beaches on the Wild Coast. And this board is a real mixture of history, the arts and my childhood growing up along the Wild Coast.
Heath and members of Our Workshop
Heath and members of Our Workshop may have entered the first board ever created by a collective. We asked him to tell us more about this and why he decided to use PET pellets as a medium for creating the art board.
Making the board as a collective was an amazing and very fluid (ah, here’s the water!) process. The Our Workshop members who worked on it are all quite used to collaboratively doing things, so it was a fairly simple procedure. We talked about it for quite some time, experimented with the PET pellets we were given to play with (on card, not on the board), then held a one-day workshop where everyone sketched ideas and design – most of which were sea-creature or ocean related. But, at this point, we also had a quite tight time limit within which to work, and it occurred to me that making a figurative image on the board would be very difficult given the time and the material we had to work with so we switched to the idea of using pattern. We made fresh designs, one emerged as a strong contender. The colour decision making started and the final design emerged with everyone’s input.
The material was provided to us by Wavescape and was one of the limiting factors with which we worked. I don’t mean limiting in a negative way at all here… Very often, good design comes from strict limits. In our case we had a specific set of colours we could choose from, a specific technique for attaching the pellets to the board, and a process we were going to follow to get to an end design as a group. All these limits are what produced the end result.
We can’t wait for everyone to see the boards and are so excited and grateful to be involved for the third year. The donations we receive through this project help us move towards our vision of “Reconnecting with the ocean to protect the largest ecosystem on the planet”. A big thank you to the Wavescape team and all of the artists involved in this fantastic project!
Artwork by Karabo Poppy Moletsane