Boards of blue

PHOTOS Dook and Roger Jardine PRODUCTION Annemarie Meintjes

When Gavin Rooke of craft initiative Dutchmann met master surfboard shaper Spider Murphy, it spurred an idea for art in a new form. The result is the Delft series of surfboards, hand-shaped by Spider and embellished by South African artists and designers.

Six ten surfboard by Asha Zero

As an icon, the surfboard forms part of, and shapes, cultural discourse, says Asha. He’s used eclectic icons, narratives and illustration styles to create a cross-cultural pastiche, and “set the stage for the surfboard to become an instrument in the development of a mythopoeic narrative”. 

20.05.2012, 2:30pm–6:40pm by Richard Hart

The co-founder of Durban-based design studio, Disturbance, Richard describes himself as a “type nut”. He painted directly onto the surfboard while listening to a random selection of musical tracks. The board is a record of this playlist, with the title of each song painted in the order it was played, in exactly the same amount of time it took for the track to play from beginning to end.

Empowerment Credentials by Anton Kannemeyer

The co-founder of Bitterkomix says his work deals with the theme in response to a quote he found that described Delftware as “a means to relay contemporary stories of the time”. ”I looked for some examples, but found mostly landscapes or still lives. The more active scene I’ve created certainly resonates with the possibilities of the board.” 

Bloom by Givan Lotz 

Givan took as his starting point the ornate depictions of flowers on original Delftware. “I’ve absorbed this decorative approach, abstracting and transforming it into something ‘other’. The symbolic potential of the flower is amplified (flowers are a plant’s reproductive organs). The whirling image is at once an exploded view of a flower, an entrancing womb and a spiralling surf wave.”

Untitled by Frances Goodman

“Surfing is quite a macho sport, but I was amazed at how female the form of the board is, and I wanted to play with that,” says Frances. “I’ve been looking at abstract expressionist painting and trying to translate something like a Pollock drip into something more feminine, something that would protrude from the surface rather than be dropped onto it. And that’s where the feathers come from.”

The master: Spider Murphy

A master craftsman with more than 45 years of shaping experience, Spider (now 65) has worked with some of the greatest surfing legends to develop innovative boards that have redefined the limits of surfing. The Delft boards are a replica of his Pipeline Gun, on which Shaun Tomson won the 1975 Hawaii Masters. They’ve all been hand-shaped and finished by Spider, who still shapes every day in his Durban workshop – in his board shorts.

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