Tom Carroll Showcases Surfing’s Golden Age in His New Exhibition
World Champion Surfer Tom Carroll gives us a peek into the lucrative and loud golden age of surfing.
Tom Carroll, two time World Champion surfer, documentary maker and now secret photographer, has been taking photos and storing them in boxes in his garage for the last 40 years. The results are a perfectly documented depiction of 80s surfing tour life, and will be displayed at Quicksilver’s Bar 61 in Torquay.
Carroll has been travelling the globe since he was just 16, spending most of his time on the world circuit as part of the ASP World Surfing League. His travels have been meticulously documented by him and his camera, giving the rest of us a taste of the salty celebrity lifestyle of a world class surfer in the 1980s.
Fortunately, Tom has journalistic talent running through his veins. His father was the former Editor-in-Chief of the Sydney Morning Herald and his brother, Nick Carroll, is one of the top writers in the surfing world. Photography is Tom’s speciality (apart from surfing), and he does it very well.
Recently, Carroll and Ben Chadbond (a photographer who “doesn’t take photos anymore”) have been archiving the contents in Carroll’s garage on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. They were tasked with the challenge of emptying boxes full of slide film negatives that were scanned and printed. The end result is a curated exhibition of Tom Carroll’s tour life from 1980 to 1985.
Chadbond worked with Tom to “help him realise his project”, but said that before he started he “didn’t know a lot about who Tom was”, or what he had done. But admitted he’d always been interested from an “Australian counterculture and historical perspective”.
There were so many photos that the pair didn’t know where to start, but the highlight was the five year gap between Tom winning his two world titles. Professional surfing was lucrative and loud, and Tom was spinning around in the centre of it, taking photos of anything and everything that caught his attention.
The collection is a perfectly clumsy and naive look into the inner workings of surfing’s golden age. Chadbond says that you can see Tom’s experimentation and growth, “In the 80s he’s new to photography and you can see him experimenting and learning,”. This is best shown by a photograph of his brother, Nick, with Tom’s right foot sticking out in the bottom right hand side of the frame, which turns into a portrait of his brother, and a self-portrait all in one.
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