Monthly Archives: July 2015

The Saltburn Surf Community

surf family I love this time of year, the warmer weather and light-nights means I can get outside more and enjoy the outdoors. There’s nothing I love more than a trip to the seaside. You see, I am a surfer. When I’m not trying to change the world, I’m usually driving around the beautiful north east coast, looking for a good wave to ride.

One of my favourite places to go is Saltburn. I love the way the town has retained its Victorian seaside charm, whilst adapting to a younger generation with its growing number of cool shops, café’s, bars and water sports companies.

As a new surfer seven years ago, I headed to the coast and immediately met a bunch of people who were warm and welcoming. Nick Noble who runs Saltburn Surf School and Hire was really helpful; giving great wave and safety advice. His school and hire shop are open most days. If you are new to surfing and just want to get in the water and try it out, Nick’s should definitely be your first port of call.

For a more personalised introduction to surfing then Richie Mitchel of Flow Surf Shool is the person to contact. Richie loves seeing people enjoy the waves and develop their surf skills. He does group and one to one coaching and is mobile which means there’s good flexibility in his hire and teaching times. He is super friendly too

Saltburn surf community would not be what it is without our veteran and champion surfer Gary Rogers. Gary runs Saltburn Surf Shop by the pier and is a must for those who are serious about surfing. He has excellent advice on boards, wetsuits and surf spots. If you want to get yourself a deal on new or second hand equipment, Gary is your man. He has equipment for beginners to advanced but more than that, both Nick and Gary have stories. They surfed when no one else did, they experimented with ways of staying warm in cold winters before the invention of 6mm wetsuits. They are our heroes and the Saltburn surf community would not be what it is without them and what they pioneered all those years ago.

The newest surf venue in Saltburn is Drift. This super cool surf shop has custom boards by Glen Narry, wetsuits and most importantly, really nice surf wear. What I love about Drift is that super cool Cornish surf shop vibe, the people who work there are great and it is a must for any trip to Saltburn.

Finally, by far the best thing to discover about Saltburn surfing apart from that thrill of catching a wave which genuinely can’t be topped, is the community. When I discovered surfing, I also found a family. We taught each other, pushed each other, became friends, cared for each other through tough times, had get-togethers, fell in (and out of) love, got married, had kids, started businesses. We shared ideas, hopes and dreams. We found what many in our society are looking for, we found community. Community is so precious in our individual society. You may not fancy the cold water sea but maybe there is another way you can get outside and enjoy Teesside, rowing, cycling, rock climbing, fell running. You may find a hobby you love and you may even find like I did, a little bit more.

My Teesside Art Crawl

I like art. It makes me feel something. I will often visit an art gallery or two when I hang out in cities. I rarely go to see art in Teesside so last week I decided to go on a bit on art crawl.

I put a call out on facebook for suggestions and was inundated with responses. I didn’t realise we had so many creative places to go and see. I realised quite quickly I couldn’t do it all in one tour so I prioritised smaller galleries. Next time I will visit larger places and art in public spaces.

My first destination was The House of Blah Blah. I like this space. It’s cocky, confident, young and cool – a little like it’s owners, Bobby and Keren. After a few years of putting on arts events in unusual places the pair of them took over the old post office, a Grade ii listed building near the train station in Middlesbrough. Bobby has some of his own work alongside emerging Teesside artists so well worth a trip.

Bobby outside the super cool gallery that is House of Blah Blah

bobby outside the super cool gallery that is house of blah blah

After this I popped in to Platform Arts. What’s fab about this space is it’s on a rail platform. It’s a little bit finding Harry Potters platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross. At the end of platform A at the top of Middlesbrough train station, you will find a secret gallery and hive to 14 local artists. There’s usually a high quality selection of cutting edge contemporary art to go and see and even buy. So next time you’re at Middlesbrough train station, get yourself there.

Artwork from the studio's

Artwork from the studio’s

platform arts

Next up was Python Gallery which is just round the corner. Python are amazing, they’re a property company that do up old buildings and alongside very cool office space, they plonk an art gallery inside. I saw two of their galleries and I was really impressed. Python Gallery were displaying a local artist called Alan Morley and if you haven’t been to see his work, I highly recommend you do. He is an outstanding artist. His pieces are clearly influenced by Middlesbrough culture, they are clever, witty and edgy. Sometimes thought provoking, other times just really aesthetically pleasing. His pictures moved me.
alan morley industry Alan morley pub

Amazingly, I then got to meet the artist himself when I got over to Gallery TS1 on Corporation road. Gallery TS1 hosts a collective of local artists and makers, who work together to run this space. There’s a wide variety of art work on offer, from 17 different artists. It’s well priced and if you think you could never afford to buy real art, then think again, there are pieces of all price ranges and you are assured to pick yourself up a bargain.
gallery TS1

I briefly visited Python’s second venue, The Heritage Gallery where I was impressed with the eclectic collection by Marget Smith. She produced some beautiful pieces and proves you don’t just have to have one arts practice.

I then made my way to Palace Arts. This was the gallery that most tempted me to buy something. I love art influenced by industry and there were a few of those type of pieces here. What’s most special for me about Teesside’s art scene is that you never know when you will find someone like Jeff Noble. Jeff was a high voltage electrician for many years until ill health changed his life direction and he now makes sculptures from scrap. His work is clearly inspired by his industrial background, turning for instance scrap metal into a sculpted rose. Palace Arts gallery is definitely living up to it’s vision as being a destination gallery and I for one, will be back (hopefully to buy a Noble piece).
industry art heart rose art

Last up was Saltburn Studio’s. This was my favourite place because all the work in the gallery is produced by the 16 artists who work in the studio’s above. You can even go and see them at work (which I did) which was brilliant. The gallery had something for everyone at a variety of price ranges.
I had such a brilliant few days discovering these wonderful places. The artists need us to support them though so they can keep going and so I hope you may be inspired to go and visit and support our local artists communities.