Image: Cam Scott - surfer, street artist, screen-printer, jack-of-all-trades. Image: Cam Scott.
By ROBBIE MASON.
If you beat the traffic that ensnares Sydney’s eastern suburbs like a boa constrictor and make it to Bondi Beach, you might notice a row of surfboards flapping in blustery winds. Look a little closer and you’ll notice some slapdash paint on the top of each board. “NORTH BONDI SHARE BOARD”, the text reads.
But what exactly are these objects? Are they part of some contemporary artwork? Are they used by surf lifesavers? Or is this a cultist shrine to the surfing gods?
Cam Scott – the renowned street artist (alias: NOTNOT) who strapped the first surfboard to the fence on Bondi Beach’s northern end – sees the project as one of “community custodianship”.
“I always had this habit of finding thrashed boards in landfill and bringing them back to life,” Cam tells City Hub.
“Years of doing that meant I had way too many boards, so I thought I’d take one and strap it to a fence at North Bondi and write ‘North Bondi shareboard’. It was a little experiment.”
When locals and visitors alike began to take the board out in the surf and return it, Cam began to add more recycled and rescued foam boards. With a little work – “a bit of gluing and sanding” – Cam gave these surfboads, or “foamies”, a new lease on life.
“Quite often they’ll have a fin box missing or something small that with a bit of know-how you can overcome.”
People began to take notice. Strangers have donated boards to the project. Cam applied for – and won – a small grant from Waverly Council. The monetary amount recently increased, meaning that Cam rarely needs to fork out for the maintenance of the boards now.
He says it’s a “real pleasure” watching others exercise and share his passion for Sydney’s waves.
“I’m almost out there every single day. I feel strangely sympathetic to those who don’t have surfing in their life because there’s so much connection to nature and connection to others. There’s a crazy surfing community in Bondi.”
Cam is a familiar figure at Bondi, a renowned street artist and a true jack-of-all-trades – he also makes and designs sunglasses, and runs a commercial screen-printing business. When he’s not bobbing atop rollers, you’ll most likely spot him wandering the rat warren of the eastern suburbs, with big silk screens under his arm, in search of public walls that, he believes, require sprucing up.
From his casual tone on the phone and infectious laugh, it’s clear Scott is a people person, big on community.
It translates into his other creative work, such as his Digital Realities street art series, which was plastered across Sydney’s urban jungle. In Cam’s words, that provocative project, which led to a TEDx Talk for him, “encouraged people to question their online personas”.
“If you imagine all of the social media posts we put out there, if people have the ability to publish in the palm of their hands at all times, instead of us biting click bait online, we’re now baiting as well, endlessly fishing in this online ocean for clicks,” he once told The Huffington Post Australia.
He’s a grafter and an artist whose public works extend towards the viewer like a handshake and an offer of coffee. He wants to break bread, and he succeeds in presenting social commentary without ever appearing preachy.
On the importance of his North Bondi share board endeauvor, he says, “it’s a great thing to see. So much of modern society seems to be tailored to individual ownership and making sure everyone stays at home, isolated from their communities.”
When pressed to describe Sydney’s eastern beaches community, Cam shoots back a quick reply: “eclectic, vibrant and welcoming”.
Prick him with a needle and it may well be sand that pours from the wound.
“As much as everyone writes off Bondi as a tourist beach, I think if I moved down the coast and I was living where it’s a bit more same-y, I’d be a bit over it. But Bondi has a mixture of backpackers, families, tourists all coming together; that’s what makes it special.”