Wood and waves combine in the art of board shaping

Renowned Margaret River surfboard designer Mat Manners has stepped into new territory this year, with the creation of not only his first wooden surfboards but the launch of an art exhibition featuring his work.

“This is the first time I’ve been in a gallery like this, I’ve done a few shows but this the first time I’m in a proper art gallery,” Manners said from his shop and studio in the industrial area.

“Boards are definitely an art, there are some amazing pieces of work out there,” he said. “It’s been a challenge working with wood for the first time on this board, I’ve had Gary in here a lot giving me advice and running the torch over it, telling me to go back and sand it some more...”

‘Gary’ is Jahroc founder, artist and furniture maker Gary Bennett, who has served as a sounding board through the creation. “Matty just rang me once and said ‘I want to make a wooden board’, can you give me some pointers?”

Jahroc founder, artist and furniture maker Gary Bennett

Jahroc founder, artist and furniture maker Gary Bennett

“I’ve been mentoring him through the process of working with wood, he’s obviously a really good board shaper and I don’t need to tell him anything there,” Bennett said. “Wood’s a lot different to foam so it’s been interesting watching him struggle with it! 

“I could never touch foam, I can’t imagine how you could actually take a plane to it and not rip holes in it. I find wood more forgiving whereas Mat feels the other way.”

Manners said the board, made from balsa and red cedar veneers, was the result of around three months work, and much attention to detail.

“I would keep coming back to it, sanding it again, checking it for the tiniest cracks and nicks, it’s a really different process to my usual boards. I have really enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to see it out in the water, I think it will ride really well and it should be pretty fast.”

Bennett said the exhibition was a good way for Manners to showcase the new work. “They’re not just surfboards, to me they're art,” he said. “And these are extra beautiful, involving timber and different tints, there’s more of an artistic approach to it.

“Boards are so cheap for what they are and the amount of work that goes into them, these guys that spend 30 years learning the craft, I think in many ways they’re undervalued.

Mat Manners in his Margaret River shop with one of the newest boards.

Mat Manners in his Margaret River shop with one of the newest boards.

“I think this is a great chance for someone like Mat to be appreciated on a different level and through some new eyes.”

Mat Manners – Art Meets Form and Function is on for one night only on Wednesday April 18 from 6-8pm at Jahroc Galleries, 83 Bussell Highway. Live music by Andrea Frances Manners and Wade Du Boulay and wines by Larry Cherubino Wines. For more visit www.facebook.com/JahrocGalleries