Ok, so as you already know I really, really like the work of Gerry Wedd. What I like about it is the texture, the lines, the colours and the ceramic forms, which always make me think of the shards of eroded and smoothed terracotta I have found on the beach over the years. There is something poetic about the way he works with pottery to tell stories and say things about oceanic experiences that makes sense.
One of his latest offerings particularly resonates with me, and I appreciate the thought and observations he presents in the images and structures. Wedd offers images and stories in places and contexts where they haven't yet been presented, and this seems to be especially sensual in the form he gives them in this case - as an urn.
As Wedd points out in the attendant blog post (click pictures to go there!), images of women surfing in Australia from the 50s to the 90s are minimal, and this is something I have thought about a lot too. So where were the ladies then? Even if they weren't surfing, surely they were around? Even if they were just being the guys' girlfriends or cooking them dinner or hanging out? I imagine there were women joining the men-folk on at least some of their trips? But then, maybe there weren't women on the kinds of trips that made it into the mainstream surfing imagination? Maybe not? Maybe they just weren't there!
Which, I must tell you, is hard to take. Really hard. The idea that there were no women involved in the cultural movement that surrounded surfing is just too difficult to believe. The idea that women weren't seen as central or important and therefore not recorded... well, that's easier to swallow.
And that's why a work like this urn of Wedd's is so interesting to me. It speaks to the same ideas and aspirations that I just wrote about in my review of Surf Ache - that diverse stories get represented and published in ways that speak to and within the culture itself. Because it makes it harder for people to keep justifying telling the same stories over and over while ignoring others. And when the representation is as beautiful as this urn is, it makes it easy to listen!