With a significant increase in attendees, this year saw many people coming to Byron Bay from across the country and around the world, specifically for the festival. Regional, national and international artists, including Ozzie Wright, Michelle Lockwood, Kym Nagler, Karlee Mackie, Iki Yasuo (Japan), Justin Crawford, Kuni Takanami (Japan), John Witzig, Hilton Dawe and Hawaii’s Heather Brown, adorned the walls of the Byron Bay Brewery with a diverse range of work, while Phil Jarratt hosted Bob McTavish and Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew in regaling the 700-strong crowd at the Byron Bay Brewery with discussion and reminiscence of surfing’s evolution. The Band Of Frequencies electrified the audience well into the night with their own very distinctive surf-folk-funk-soul blend of highly entertaining, exceedingly popular sounds.
Despite a less-than-favourable forecast, the weekend was given a reprieve from the solid soaking promised, barely a drop falling on Byron Bay.
Saturday was a whirlwind of entertainment, information, creativity and interest, with the Surf Festival artisan market taking place in the centrally located Railway Park featuring cruisy sounds of nine talented local musicians, while just across the road, a gamut of fascinating talks and workshops filled the Byron Community Centre, including such topics as Surf Yoga and fitness, literature, travel, writing, history and board-making.
A beautiful installation with a serious message featured at the market’s centre, created by local artist, Narani Henson. The piece, made from a horde of flotsam found on local beaches, addressed the issue of ocean waste, each hanging element featuring a message on the atrocities of pollution, plastics and their detrimental effects on ocean wildlife.
This message was reinforced by the Festival’s Charity Raffle, which raised in excess of $1,500 for two charities: Positive Change for Marine Life and The Uncle Project.
On the other side of town, the Youth Activity Centre was abuzz with young artists. Local design collective, Real Design Studio and artist James McMillan, hosted ‘stART Me Up’, a kids’ art fiesta and youth mentorship program, with skateboarding demonstrations, a slip and slide, t-shirt spray-painting, live music and an art competition. The exhibition of contest entries from Byron to the Tweed and Gold Coast was exceptional, with portraits of George Greenough and Michael Peterson, sculptures, mixed media and paintings of exceptional quality.
Camille Wiseman with her work ‘Bubbles’ was the lucky winner, chosen from an outstanding contingent of upcoming artists. Camille will receive a Santa’s sack of prizes, including a six-month mentorship from the wonderful girls at Real Design Studio and local artist James McMillan.
Local musician, M. Jack Bee welcomed a staggering audience for the sell-out screening of the Surf Shorts short film contest and Taylor Steele’s latest masterpiece, This Time Tomorrow.
Short films from as far afield as Spain and England made the final five, representing comedic, historical, documentary and artistic genres, each one worthy of the first place. But it was the hilarious The Shaper by England’s Rich Pearn, a tale of a Cornish shaper guided by Mother Nature in his craftsmanship that was awarded gold place and a mentorship from Taylor Steele.
Steele was on hand to answer questions on his film-odyssey, This Time Tomorrow, in which he, Dave Rastovich and Craig Anderson journey thousands of kilometres over eight days, pursuing the same, single, massive swell from Tahiti to Alaska.
Sunday morning honoured the sad loss last week of Californian master-shaper, Donald Takayama, Watego’s Beach the venue of a paddle-out in memory of a great man. Tom Wegener, Phil Jarratt, Rusty Miller and many more shared memories of Takayama’s life as almost forty surfers joined hands in the lineup of Watego’s Bay.
With a multi-national crowd, from Spain, Italy, Brazil, America, Japan, New Zealand and all over Australia filling the beach at Watego’s the final day was filled with boards of every size and description. From hand planes and timber belly boards to traditional-style longboards, fishes, eggs and modern shortboards, a huge display of craft graced the shoreline, including Tom Wegener, Classic Malibu and Mitch Surman from the Sunshine Coast, regional labels, Rhythmsticks, Morning Of The Earth and Dead Kooks, Californian shaper, Ryan Lovelace, and a hand plane workshop from Japan’s Toru Ogawa in collaboration with Patagonia Australia and Tom Wegener.
A sausage sizzle fuelled surfers and crowds all day long, with fun, clean waves blessing the festival, providing a fantastic playing field for tandem surfers, locals, board-testers and the selected few of the day’s Freestyle&Stoke expression session.
A closing ceremony, humble and relaxed, was held at the Pass Café and, with the weekend’s festivities drawing to a close, there was no doubt that the 2012 Byron Bay Surf Festival had proved a resounding success, far exceeding the already excellent response of last year’s inaugural event.
This fantastic weekend could not have been possible without the kind support of a host of sponsors including the Byron Bay Brewery, GoPro, ByronBay.com and a multitude of other generous individuals and businesses.
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