SurfNews magazine #65 Italia
Settembre – Ottobre issue 2007
year 13 number 5
SEMANTICA OCEANICA by Nicola
Surfista, painter, photographer and gallery owner, Blair McNamara
is one of the most successful artists of the Gold Coast, that
lucky stretch of coast south of Brisbane made famous by waves
as Kirra and Noosa. His art testifies thirty years of Australian
beach culture in a critical and enjoyable at the same time.
It is no coincidence that the interview that follows, between
a visit to the Cooperative Mosaic of Ravenna and a session on
the rights of Adria, ranging from surfing, all'ambientalismo,
Aboriginal culture. Blair is a surfer of more evolved species,
loves the waves clean, Byzantine mosaics, compositional techniques
of Renaissance art and contemporary Italian design. Blair is
in fact Italy to contaminate new techniques with its beach-art.
Fortunately its study period in Ravenna coincided with a series
of warm autumn storm surges that we have given way to share
both its areas of interest.
In your interviews you have often stated that the surf is your
"semantic field." Where does this interest originate
I was born into a family of beach-watching, my father was the
president of Surf Life-Saving association of Coolum Beach in
Southern Queensland. In the late'60s associations salvamento
were becoming increasingly important and my father wanted us
absolutely that it did. Unfortunately for him I have always
been a creative person and a free spirit and I never loved life
club. In the late'60s surfing was becoming very popular thanks
to Koolite, toy tablets produced in series with polestirolo
not resin. From children, in the early'70s, legavamo the Koolite
ankle with a rope and a sock. Recently there regalarono a real
table, a mini-gun single fin, myself and my brother there buttammo
headlong into surfing, completely forgetting everything else.
At the age of fourteen I was completely taken by the waves but
understand, since then, surf and paint were two closely related
How could two seemingly antithetical things as surfing and artistic
culture, so quietly melt in your life?
Art is emotional sensitivity. Around the twenty years I realised
to react emotionally to the environment that surrounds me. I
could to perceive the human and geological history of my land,
an area inhabited by aboriginal right from dawn of time and
dense with meaning. They were to tell their own way art. I grew
up in close contact with Aboriginal families, especially fascinated
by the naturalness and spontaneity of their relationship with
nature. From them I assimilated, quite intuitively, information
and points of view regarding my land and the coast where I live.
Their cultural system is one of the most advanced and unique
to that of anthropologists. I was always attracted the fact
that their art is not based on royalties rigid as the prospect
or classical proportions. Their paintings are almost always
visions Air, organized as stories. This family sagas, maps drawn
by the legendary ancestors, the re-enactment of animals. You
do not hang the paintings in some or to give him a sense unit.
A whole strand of my work is based on that. Paddock For example,
one of my favorites, was painted from above. It represents the
paths and fields by my house that led to the sea. It is a map
and a story at the same time.
About history. How to relate with the European culture Australian
Experience art in Australia is very difficult. The Australia
is a nation heavily urbanized. All inhabitants, or almost live
in large cities along the coast and focus on human activities.
My art instead comes from what was the first and still is located
outside the city. The population also is not large and the number
of people involved is very limited art. And this is also the
reason for this visit to Italy: I want to expose my work to
new audiences, with a background different from mine.
SEMANTICA OCEANICA by Nicola Zanella (continued)
Return for a while to the culture of beach. We know that you
grew surfisticamente precisely in the years of short-board revolution.
As has changed from the Gold Coast quado the frequent?
In the 60s Jack Kerouac liked to call surfers "throw-forwards
of society" that is a fringe advanced society. When I heard
this phrase in the early 70s I suffered there are mirrored.
At along the Gold Coast there were very few surfers. When incontravi
someone with a surfboard was a pleasure to make friends and
share the waves. I spent days watching huge waves waiting for
someone to come to me in the water company. Until the early
80s the people there looked like Martians. Young people today
do not believe when they hear stories of the 70s. The Gold Coast
was a freak zone, everything cost little, there were flowers,
incense and natural food stores on every corner. There were
many Europeans at the time, fleeing from the stress of life
in the old continent, and everyone is dressed in sarong and
helped each other. Then suddenly, with the end of the 80s life
is changed. The population of Coolum Beach is gone from six
hundred to thirty thousand inhabitants. Today thousand people
a week come to live in Southern Queensland. Everyone is very
aggressive, even in waves, and that sense of community that
is breathed in coastal communities is lost. Many people my age
think that surfers today are wrong sport! Their competitiveness
and violence show that water might be better suited for football
players or pilots motorcycle racing! I was in California at
the end of the 90s and I was afraid. In Los Angeles, I saw the
future of my coast. Now along the Gold Coast cementizzazione
is under the eyes of everyone. It is becoming a highly industrialized
area with rich districts, skyscrapers and parts degraded.
In fact frameworks your documents change the coast stressing
Yes, in the artistic community, however, are famous for being
an artist optimistic. I do not like to underline the gloomy
tone of change, I prefer documentarli with precision but without
inflict pain. The same can not think of a better future without
first analysing our past. For this use, for thirty years, even
photography. This bond over time can be seen in a painting as
Blueprint which I painted in'86 and moved on canvas only recently.
It is a view of the coast from the house where I grew up, a
story of change and persistence. The buildings you see white
paintings were recently constructed completely blocking the
view of the sea from our house (my have sold almost immediately).
The buildings are, as in Aboriginal painting, as ethereal ghosts.
The trees instead of the famous Norfolk island pines, despite
have been killed, are painted in purple and intense are the
heart of the framework. These history-has been exhibited in
a major exhibition documenting the changes in my town in the
last thirty years. The population has responded very well to
the works, the elderly cried seeing glimpses that no longer
exist and the Aboriginal community showed me respect in this
work between history and art.
Your art is based on values proactive. I would be interested
to know what are these values and the technical means by which
Despite my optimism are very attentive to the quality of life
and how its level is being lowered in Eastern Australia. I think
the first environmental degradation hurt people. With urbanisation
came the mania for power el'avarizia. Now we are spreading the
private quarters, with magnetic keys to enter and armed surveillance
of all kinds. All now want to possess, not to be! How trascrivo
on this canvas? First, I must say that I do not know anything,
at the beginning, as the work will be finished. Using several
different techniques, but often from birth layers of acrylic
color. It is a colour that dries very quickly and lends itself
to my painting emotional. A painting usually begins with a hand
of fund which started a narrative. Hands subsequent color highlight
specific details of the design. Continuous so even twenty times
and eventually the original idea, as expressed on the first
layer of color is completely changed. Often working on series
of paintings on a single instead. Seascape 1-5 is an example
of this technique. As soon as I reach the emotional intensity
I try I will stop and start another glimpse.
SEMANTICA OCEANICA by Nicola Zanella (continued)
In this case the scenes revolve around the large sedimentary
rocks that are on the beach. The call Coffee Rocks and are the
last survivors of past eras in which this was all swamp. I like
to see how they are covered by sand and discoveries every season
and how people avoid or walk over there depending on the tide.
It is an experiment in "morfing" between people and
nature in which I, as the author, sparisco almost completely.
I am not at all egotico with my art. The ideas are out for themselves
in three dimensions as in dreams Aborigines. I am just a channel
through which the art materializes, I am a brush that manages
other brushes. I myself I am amazed! It's like when you have
to take a wave and decide whether to go right or left. The movement
happens in an instant and has to be perfect otherwise lose the
wave or, in my case, the energy of the picture.
And how do you think that Italy can help in this search your
An American friend of mine who lived in Ravenna I spoke of Cooperativa
of Mosaic, its restoration work and his artistic production.
Their techniques would be well on my works so I started a collaboration
with them that I hope mature since my months in Italy. I often
being contacted by individuals or institutions to set up large
works. The fact that you can count on me specialists Italians
opens new horizons. They are at a time when I am turning the
page artistically, and I need to explore different media. Another
thing that fascinates me of is the fact that much of the artistic
production, it is still made by groups of people, such as craft
shops. I attracts art without "signatures", the one
made to improve the lives of many people and not for glorificarne
one and I think that Italy is the perfect place for this. If
the waves continue to be entertaining today as I touch their
stay longer than three months budgeted!