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V&A Museum Plywood exhibition including skateboarding in Wales

8 Sep

Plywood exhibition

A while back Chris at Exist got an email from a researcher at the V&A Museum asking about Over Ply Wood and how she could contact me. I got back to her and she explained that the museum was planning a big exhibition about plywood and it’s many uses. She had found Over Ply Wood online and was interested in how skateboarders had used plywood for boards and ramps. They needed some film so I asked Tomsk if he was up for it and we jumped at the chance to get involved. I sent them some video Tomsk had let me use for Over Ply Wood. Ron Williams was also into his cine film from 1970’s Porthcawl being used so I sent that along too. Months later and the show has opened. The film clips are projected up onto big screens and can be seen in a continuous loop high above the plywood objects on show. The exhibitionĀ is free and its on until Sunday 12th November 2017.

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V&A Plywood exhibition from Jono on Vimeo.

skateboard workshop

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Over Ply Wood exhibition

2 Jul

The exhibition went off in Mumbles last week…..I spent the Monday (16th June) with Jamie and Jon Jones setting up in the gallery. Jamie painted the Over Ply Wood text up onto one of the gallery walls and I hung the rest of the show….plenty of framed photographs and magazines which were easy to put up, a couple of Ramprockers and pre 70’s boards lent by Simon Main….Furr skateboards lent a couple of their excellent new boards and Dan lent his Welsh Tommy Crayon board so the boards pretty much covered the entire history of skateboarding with a local flavour of course…..Tomsk lent a snapped Steve Caballero that appeared on the cover of Edge Magazine in the late 80’s…snapped by Twiss down at Langland in fact. Jack Kirtley did an awesome drawing comic book style of the Rotherslade ramp story from the film. I had 2 display cases made, one of which contained a good stack of 70’s artefacts….a Dave Friar elbow pad kindly lent be Phil Rees, a sew on patch from Skate City in London and a pile of books and magazines from the craze days…..hopefully the pictures show most of the material on show. Thanks for all the loans, time spent and amazing help from everyone…..Tomsk, Greg, Frenchy, Jamie, Simon Main, Jon Jones, Jack Kirtley, Exist skatepark, Phil Rees, Sean who made the cases, Kerry Evans for the framing and advice, Ceri Roberts, Oriel Bach, Zac at Crossfire for some great publicity. Everyone who came down to see the exhibition…..more soon!!

Support your local indoor skatepark….Exist!

1 Mar

A skateboarding scene is built around the spots that are available. This can be the streets and architecture used creatively by skateboarders. This can be d.i.y. spots built by skateboarders using their own resources and ingenuity. This can also be council funded skateparks and ramps. Finally and currently most important in my eyes it can be a privately funded indoor park built at the owners cost both financially and in time spent. Initially the cost of building the park is squarely on the shoulders of anyone brave enough to attempt such a mammoth undertaking. The park then relies on paying customers to keep it afloat. Simple facts that I thought everyone grasped.

A privately funded indoor skatepark is largely a labour of love, as businesses go it is never going to make a fortune. I know from co-owning The Edge in Leicester that we rarely managed to make enough to pay ourselves even a basic wage. The money that came in through the door from paying customers went to paying off loans for materials, rent for the building, insurance, electricity bills, council tax and rates and this is all before any repairs and general upkeep.

For a large city like Swansea the council has never been forthcoming in providing a skatepark or facility of any quality. Not since Morfa stadium has there been a council funded facility that can be considered state of the art or reflecting the needs of skaters at the time. Morfa itself was the result of tireless work by local skaters and the culmination of years of attempting to work with the council to provide even the most basic facility. Swansea skaters have been forced to build their own ramps and facilities over the years and this has made the scene what it is today. Exist skatepark is the result of this attitude. It has been years in the making and is totally the result of hard work, dedication and passion. Ric and Kate have put everything on the line to make the skatepark happen.
support indoor parks

If someone goes out of their way to do this their effort needs to be reciprocated. The easiest way to do this is to go to the park, to pay for the privilege of having an indoor park in our city. A park that hasn’t just materialised out of nowhere but has taken years of planning, thousands of pounds of investment and hours of hard work. Every penny really does count to ensuring that the park survives, every entry fee, every cup of tea, every bag of crisps and pot noodle goes towards the next bill or sheet of plywood.

Working at the skatepark as I now do I have come across all kinds of amazing moments…young kids learning to drop in for the first time, people who could barely stand on a board when the park opened 18 months ago who now shred the place, skaters from the past who have dug out their boards again and hit the ramp…..friendships made. Conversely as with any gathering of young people I have seen some of the more unsavoury sides to youth….this is all good though. It’s always a learning process wether it be learning new tricks, sharing a space with others and generally getting on or respecting the environment that has been provided for you. The skatepark in it’s first 18 months has been all this and more.

This post is inspired by an incident at the skatepark where my belief that all skaters would share the same values was dented. I’m not going into any details suffice to say that trying to get away without paying isn’t cool for all the reasons laid out here. For the sake of a couple of quid is it really worth the hassle? It shows a lack of understanding of the sacrifices many have made, it shows a lack of respect for the efforts of others and worst of all it denies the skatepark the lifeline it needs to Exist. As Ric says in the interview below his goal for this year is to stay open. Buy that extra coffee, pay for your time in the park, get a sandwich in the park and not at Tesco round the corner…it is everyone’s park and everyone is responsible for it’s survival.

Main’s skateboard collection and the Paul Conibear Ramprocker.

28 Feb

After being in contact with Con and hearing the stories of the fabled Paul Conibear Ramprocker I made it my mission to track one down. It proved to be a very simple mission; I asked Tomsk if he had one and he said no but Main has one in his collection! I texted Main and within a couple of days I had the legendary board in my possession. The advert for Con’s Ramprocker is on the bottom right of this page from Skateboard! Magazine.Skateboard! magazine 1970's Ramprocker ad 2

Not only that but a large pile of even older skateboards…the standout being the Roller Derby board with composite wheels which I have done a kind of photo shoot with below. I didn’t dare to give it a roll for fear of damaging the clay wheels which I don’t know how fragile they are. It’s a bit board porn but I can’t say how many of these things are still around. It was first made in 1959 and was the first ever mass produced skateboard. (Pictures are all clickable for a better and larger view)

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So I took the Ramprocker down to it’s ancestral home at Langland carpark a couple of months ago and had a roll around and took these pictures. Thanks Main for loaning me your valuable collection. It’s been rad to get a feel for the old boards and made me appreciate Con’s achievements on a skateboard even more as it’s a bitch to ride compared with how easy we have it these days.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMain shows off his Ramprocker

con at gorseinon bowlCon grinding the kinked Gorseinon bowl on his Ramprocker