Surf, Sun, Storms and Steph Gilmore Make Waves At Bleach* Surfing the Fringe Festival Opening Weekend

Bleach* Surfing the Fringe festival opened to clear blue skies over the weekend, with the inaugural Gold Coast surf culture celebration drawing over 10,000 spectators to a variety of art exhibitions housed in shipping containers strategically placed along the coastline, Pop Up Bleach*, and a street party, Bleach* Street. The blue skies didn’t last however, with Sunday evening’s scheduled outdoor art installation evening Bleach* On The Rocks cancelled due to a fierce electrical storm. Despite the setback, organisers kept the festival’s remaining schedule for the evening running to plan.

Bleach* Surfing the Fringe will host over fifty-five art and photography installations, film screenings, music, talks, fashion, theatre and food events staged across the beaches, foreshores and major venues unique to the Southern Gold Coast from 11-26 Feb 2012. For 16 days, across 10kms, over 80 artists and musicians are displayed.

Amongst the opening weekend’s visitors was Quiksilver surfer and former world champion Stephanie Gilmore who took time out of her preparations for the upcoming ASP world tour opener, the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, to check out the Bleach* opening day festivities. “Bleach* is perfect, because this time of year is all about surfing, it’s Summer. This area is so beautiful and creative,” said Stephanie, adding, “This event is kind of mixing everything together and of course surfing is the big theme.”

Bleach* opening week has a plethora of art, music and culture events still in the works.  Those seeking daily art immersion can visit the Bleach* Collective galleries housing surf-inspired art, photography and sculpture open during business hours for the duration of the festival. These exhibitions can be found at participating galleries such as Kirra Hill Cultural & Community Centre, Kallalu, Café Dbar, Bambi Deluxe, Little Lido Espresso Bar, and well as shopfronts in Coolangatta and Tugun reclaimed by Gold Spaces urban renewal project.

Art exhibition In Our Peak, Not Quite Antique will open Tuesday evening featuring the work of a range of young up-and-coming artists curated by Avalon D’Arcy in one of the aforementioned Gold Spaces for Bleach* storefronts.

On Wednesday the public debate Is Surfing An Art or A Sport? will take place at Surf World Gold Coast Museum with a panel of surf identities including celebrated surf author Tim Baker, surfboard shaper Stuart D’Arcy, surf commentator Bruce Lee, former professional surf and ASP women’s tour manager Jessi Miley Dyer, infamous local surf artist Baron Von Weirdo and Southern Cross University’s Jak Carroll.

Also on Wednesday, the White Wash Bleach* Collective exhibition will open at Little Lido Espresso Bar,  photographer Shelli Bankier will screen her experimental film Oceanscape at nearby Kallalu, and surf punkster Pirates Alive and Goons of Doom will feature at a Bleach* concert at Coolangatta’s Never Land with an accompanying art installation by surfer/artist Ozzie Wright.

On Thursday Pop Up Bleach* galleries housed in shipping containers laid on prominent beach foreshores will re-open. These temporary galleries feature for the duration of the festival from Thursday to Friday 4pm – 8pm and Saturday to Sunday, 3- 8pm, and house the works of surf-inspired visual artists Jae Copp, Potts and Josh Rufford as well as a range of experimental photographers and filmmakers, including legendary lens men Dick Hoole and Albe Falzon right through to young progressive photographers like Trent Mitchell and Nick Lawrence to name but few.

The weekend will see another explosion of film, art and music events. For families Kirra Dreaming will be a focal point on Saturday at Kirra Hill Community and Cultural Centre, featuring Circular Rhythm children’s music and culture workshops by local former professional longboarder, musician and indigenous performer, Lucus Proudfoot, live performances by musicians Gavin Doniger and Katia Demeester, kids tie dye classes, and surf writing workshops by celebrated surf author Tim Baker. Best known for his books Bustin’ Down The Door, High Surf, Surfari and Occy, Tim also wrote children’s book The Surfer and the Mermaid that was turned into a kid’s cushion concert for Bleach, so this exclusive writing workshop at Bleach* Kirra Dreaming will be a must-see for budding surf scribes or aspiring children’s authors. No bookings required for Circular Rhythm (free) or tie dye classes ($10). Writing workshops $50 p.p., book via the Bleach* website.

Bleach* music events across the weekend include separate performances by the likes of local favourites Tijuana Cartel at the SoundLounge, the raucus surf garage sounds of Depths of Balsa, and the surf acoustic tones of Mat McHugh at Sway on Sunset, a stylish bikini retrospective at Komune featuring the classic collection of vintage swimwear by Pearly Shells plus the current works of designers Kulu Atoll, Alope, bikini lover, Karen Neilsen, and Tallow plus an advance sneak peak at the 2013 Billabong women’s swim range.

A plethora of film will also be unleashed this weekend, including revolutionary 1972 Steve Core film In Natural Flow. The full-restored 16 mm footage of surf luminaries MP, PT, Rabbit, Peter Drouyn, Simon Anderson and many others will be dusted off for one of its first public screenings in almost 30 years, with the experience enhanced by the vibrant tones of 3Illa playing a live set.

Surf World Gold Coast Museum will host Retrospect, an evening filled with films featuring longboards, 8mm film and footage straight from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Witness the resurgence of the past with feature films including Paul Witzig’s 1967 classic Hot Generation and legendary surf visionary George Greenough’s Deep Tube Riding and Wipeout short films and George’s brand new film clip for Band of Frequencies, All I’ve Found, plus other great footage.

Patagonia and Fuel TV will present two consecutive evenings of free outdoor movie screenings when Surf Surf Films takes over Queen Elizabeth Park, Coolangatta.

Summer Surf Films opening night movies include short flick Lunchbreak (starring Laura Enever, Tyler and Kirby Wright, Serena Brooke, Ellie-Jean Coffey and more) plus the local premiere of Come Hell Or High Water, surfer Keith Malloy’s exploration of the simplicity and beauty of riding waves from a different perspective. His directional debut showcases Mark Cunningham, Mike Stewart, Dan Malloy, Chris Malloy, Koa Watson, Belinda Baggs and more, and was the winner of Best Film and Best Cinematography awards at both the New York Surf Film Festival 2011 and London Surf Film Festival 2011.

Nigh two of Summer Surf Films will see a special screening of legendary surf filmer Jack McCoy’s Blue Sway, a film clip shot for musical royalty, Sir Paul McCartney. This will be followed by Under The Sun, a feature length documentary by Cyrus Sutton filmed on location in Byron Bay and the Gold Coast which examines where the commercialisation of surfing stems from. Shot in super 16mm, it stars Dave Rastovich, Nat Young, Beau Young, Rabbit Bartholomew, and Dean Morrison.

Meanwhile Bleach* On The Rocks will illuminate Currumbin’s iconic Elephant Rock with celebrated visual artists, including a series of images and film projections curated by Gold Coast’s own Claudio Kirac (Feb 19) and film projects by Cyrus Sutton (Feb 18).

And for those keen to hit the water for a good cause, the Disabled Surfer’s Association will be holding a ‘Let’s Go Surfing Day’ on Feb 19. Get along and assist disabled surfers to discover the joys of surfing, all welcome.

Week two of Bleach* Surfing The Fringe festival also promises more surf-inspired creativity, stay tuned for updates.

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