Skewjack @ 50

Skewjack Stories was born out of ‘The First Wave’, an oral history project charting the early years of British Surfing. As a researcher and interviewer I was looking for contributors and an old schoolmate suggested Chris Tyler, who ran Skewjack. Chris was living in Bulgaria, so Essex his son stepped in.

It was one of the most heartfelt interviews I had ever done. Something connected and I knew that there was a story to be told. Not just in terms of surf history and Skewjack’s part in it, but also of the changing face of surf culture and the anecdotes, and experiences of people who lived, worked and stayed at the village.

I set about spending time with and recording the stories of people who had a connection with the village. Originally audio was recorded for notes and the idea was in a couple of years I’d produce a book. Life had different plans, and so did the Skewjack spirit.

Themes were emerging, deeper themes than ‘just’ surf, wild parties and sex. There was the changing face of surfing and surf culture. There was art, music & fashion. Then came themes of escapism & searching, freedom and response to wider political & social dynamics. Of masculine and feminine, empowerment and disempowerment. Themes of dark and light, and of story as a means of connection and healing.

I realised all that time was needed for the stories to breath and do their thing. As time went on they grew and revealed more of what this project is really about. First up, it’s not a textbook history of Skewjack; it’s about telling the story of Skewjack through the stories of those who were there. Secondly, there’s a deeper part of the process that is key to what makes us human. It’s what defines community, culture, connection and self. It allows our voice, brings joy, touches pain and can instil peace. Storytelling.

Skewjack @ 50 is a snapshot look at the roots of the surf village and its place in 70’s and 80’s surf (and non-surf) culture. There are so many stories to share; those being shown form the backbone. It’s a celebration of 50 years of an iconic moment in time that could never be repeated, no matter how hard one tried. At the end of all of my interviews I ask: ‘Did Skewjack change or shape your life?’ The overwhelming response is ‘Yes’. That spirit is still very much alive today through the stories, memories and characters that will continue to be passed down through generations. 

Skewjack @ 50 is open August 9 - 21st at Jupiter Gallery in Newlyn.

It's an interactive exhibition so please bring headphones for your mobile if you can

Tues - Sat 10 - 3pm

Weekend evening events are ticketed and available here:

Full details here