Introducing Issac Blyth ~ a Tasmanian creative based in nipaluna/Hobart.
What do you love about living in Tasmania?
I live with my beautiful partner and our three children on the shores of the Derwent Estuary in Taroona. Throughout my formative years, I immersed myself in travelling experiences globally and locally. However, the uniqueness of Lutrawita/Tasmania, with its topography and surrounding water, continues to draw me in.
The ability to access this island's north, south, east and west coasts provided me with a very dynamic environment to grow up in. The deep affiliation and connection to land and sea have encouraged me to craft pieces with an intuitive approach.
Who or what influences you creatively?
I was fortunate enough to learn alongside Tom Wegener, an influential icon of surf culture and a master surfboard artisan (his key principles: make ‘green' boards and use natural materials). Tom originated from California, where he was mentored by, and a team rider for, Donald Takayama. My first encounter with an ancient Hawaiian craft called the ’Alaia’ opened my mind to finless surfing, highlighting the importance and potential of flex.
The purpose of my artwork is to connect, appreciate and become aware of the subtle nuances offered by our natural world. Motivated by design, I am intrigued by how rider, craft and wave force interact, share and work harmoniously together. I am inspired to make beautiful objects that can evoke this harmony through my journey of the craft’s potential.
What materials do you use in your practice, and what do you love about them?
I work with a timber called ‘Paulownia’ due to its strength-to-weight ratio and resistance to saltwater. For functional purposes, I intermittently use endemic Tasmanian timbers, mostly Huon Pine and King Billy Pine, to protect the nose of the surfboard. These timbers are also resistant to water penetration, and rot and are durable and workable. I use resin sourced from the ancient endemic Xanthorrhoea tree, known commonly as a grass tree. The resin seals the board for longevity while giving the timber a rich ochre colour.
*xanthorrhoea means 'yellow flow' in Latin; read more about the resin & genus here.
My work focuses on developing sculptural forms from natural materials that traverse along a wave face. The thinking behind these forms relates to sustainability and the infinite cycle of materials chosen. Each form’s material is sourced, shaped, ridden, and able to decay into the origins from which it came, providing nutrients for the cycle to begin again.
What inspired you for this particular body/series/piece of work?
I am driven to experiment with natural materials, drawing on cultural and contemporary surfboard designs, mathematical modelling, trial and error, and waking from a dream to scribble designs in the dark of night. This collection has evolved to become something to ride and reflect on.
This trio of boards has evolved; each has various aesthetic qualities and is unique in shape and form, with sleek and sinuous lines. The earthy ochre colour from the resin is their unifying feature.
I noticed the boards aren’t signed; can you speak about this …
I never had an interest in branding or owning each board; they are makings of their own. They are alive and deserve to be free to explore, connect and bring joy to all. Leaving them pure and allowing the beholder to focus on the form and its simplicity.
I like that my boards can be found around the globe, surfed or part of collections – I have gifted boards over the years as I have tested the shapes and forms. The joy comes from the craft, the process and giving back to the culture of surfing; I don’t need to have my name on them; they are a message from something greater than myself.
Ultimately, unlike mass-produced surfboards made with toxic materials, these boards can age, weather and return to the earth.
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