Subtropicaliaby Andy Davis / 12.10.2009
A while back the artist Paul Edmunds contacted us at Mahala and asked if we have any old, ruined wetsuits to spare for one of his projects. I was incredulous. Of course we did. As you know, part of Mahala Surf Co’s work is to collect and distribute second hand surf equipment to underprivileged communities. We get a lot of wetsuits. Some of them are really crummy. Old falling apart things, full of holes and delaminating neoprene rubber. These things take up space in my garage. I had been meaning to turn them into products like pencil cases and mouse pads, to sell for Mahala but as I said, they were just taking up space in my garage. And now Paul Edmunds wanted them.
Paul makes eye catching, abstract, sophisticated and complex art pieces out of every day objects. Being a thoroughly decent chap, he went to a second hand surf shop and purchased a bunch of replacement wetsuits, in perfect working order, to exchange for the old, stinky rubber in my garage. Better yet, all the suits Paul swapped with us were kid’s sizes, and all the suits we gave him were adult sized and entirely unusable. Edmunds’ donated suits are destined for the Palama Metsi Surf Club at Muizenberg.
In Paul’s own words:
“Subtropicalia began with a short story I wrote recounting my childhood in Johannesburg in the 1970s and 80s and my enduring interest in skateboarding and surfing.
“My work, which is characterised by a concern with process, pattern and material, tends to be received with an emphasis on its abstract properties. With Subtropicalia, using my story as a template through which to view the work, I track how memory, sensory phenomena and abiding interests inform my exploration of materials, forms, repetitive processes and design.
“Subtropicalia will comprise a series of sculptures and two-dimensional pieces, a large-scale projection of the video work Weft and a limited edition publication of the short story.”
The exhibition opened on Thursday at Michael Stevenson Gallery, which is situated on the ground floor, Buchanan Building, 160 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock, Cape Town.
Images courtesy and © Mario Todeschini