I have a few cherished surfing memories that i hold on to, a couple down the coast, a couple overseas. One of my favorites was watching Skip Frye surf his local wave at Tourmaline, from the beach and the line up. He exudes class, ocean knowledge, positioning and an understanding of trim matched by few world wide. His lithe movements belie his age and i can only aspire to surf half as good as i move into my dotage. The pic above is actually Rincon (another place of memory) and comes from Andrew Kidman’s “Lost in Ether” book which is what this preamble is buliding to.
It’s a beautiful film and book project and like all of kidman’s work is something of a gem. It’s probably best described as a love letter to the art of surfboard building, particularly to the backyard tinkerer’s and surfer/shaper/wanderers, often at odds with the machine of the “surf industry” following their own trip and enriching our collective cultural experience as a result.
Thos posted a great review here and so i’m not going to go into huge detail because i think he nailed how i feel too. If i have a criticism, it’s just that, like litmus and glass love, it sometimes feels a little unfocused without a distinct narrative but that doesn’t interfere with my enjoyment.
Something that does come across strongly in all of Kidman’s output, this being no exception, is how much he really means it, from the minute questioning of rail and bottom theory to the handwritten thank you for ordering note in the envelope. Much like the shapers he features, Kidman himself is something of a wanderer, a deep thinker, often railing at the percieved status quo. His work often questions more than it answers and through it all is a feeling that he cares passionately about surfing as an entity, and not in the business or conventional sport sense but as a way of being. He’s someone who has frequently put his own money where his mouth is and as our “sport” becomes more and more integrated into the mainstream, people like Andrew become more and more important to help us hold onto what makes surfing so special for so many people. I’m sure he feels like he has a responsibility to almost “curate” and preserve and celebrate that which the industry machine ignores as not commercial and more power to him for that.
I’m sure he will never read this, but thank you Andrew