Geo Matts

Geo Matts is a frothing young photo-cine-illustrato-matographer from Woonona. Currently in the process of filming a surf movie on the quest of two female professional surfers chasing their dreams, an unfortunate New Year's Eve break-in has left Geo without her required tools of trade. As a result she's putting on a special one-night-only show to help reclaim some of the lost ground and gear.

Black Gold: Let’s start with the show. Why are you putting it on and what can people expect on the night?

Geo Matts: I'm putting it on to recover lost funds as a result of a combination of my youthful naivety and the exploration of my van and its contents by criminal youths. The show is called The Frivolous Exploration of Unadultered Youth.

I feel a bit older after having all my camera equipment stolen...I was half way through making a surf movie to raise money for my friends to travel the WQS. I had my van packed ready for an early departure to take some time off from work - assholes who I'm sure will not take advantage of the beautiful equipment they lifted, stole it that night. Along with my shoes and favourite pair of wolf socks.

On the night people can expect the best of my art works, photographs and new t-shirt designs. Harry Bolton will be gracing us with his presence by playing the guitar and singing, out of the goodness of his heart.

So hectic, but sounds like we're in for a good night as a result, so I guess that's one diamond in the rough. Tell us more about the surf movie you were working on...

The film is based on two female professional surfers, Skye Burgess from Wollongong and Sarah Baum From Durban, South Africa. The girls have previously competed in the Women's World Surfing Qualifying Series, and have returned to the tour this year.

Our film is based on women as athletes, portraying both sides of women's surfing, and how body image should not affect a person’s ability to express themselves in a sport that is so widely considered more than just a sport, but a lifestyle and an art form.

I chose Sarah and Skye for the film not only because they are my best friends, but because I know they can surf better than half the girls out there that have major sponsorship deals, sponsors that pay for them to surf the world, majorly because they show off their body and sex appeal.

I imagine you've formulated those opinions based on firsthand experience. Back in the 80's and 90's it seemed like girls had to be one of the boys to make it, now it seems to have swung too far back the other way to the sex appeal. Do you think it's possible that women's surfing will one day balance out and be more accepting of all shapes and sizes? And how hard do you think it is for those women that don't fit the mold to accomplish their dreams at present?

Firsthand experience and from conversations with the girls that have been on tour for a few years.

Female competitive surfing has definitely progressed, the girls are doing airs now. And there is 15-year-olds taking on the 20-year-olds. I think it is already shaping up to be equal, but it will take some time to run the full mile. Tyler Wright is a perfect example of that. I believe Tyler is the perfect example of a female surfer. She is strong and hearty and doesn't care about being the bikini model surfer. She is the athlete and that's what competitive surfing should be about!

It is very difficult to achieve your dream as a professional surfer if you don't have the funds to travel around the world and compete on those events, but the girls with the major sponsors have that upper hand and therefore stay in the top seed positions because of that advantage.

I'm curious on your thoughts about women's surfing in this area. Going back a few years it was far less common to see a girl in the lineup, but that has changed a lot recently. What has it been like growing up as a female surfer in the Illawarra and how do you feel about the surf scene for girls locally these days?

Yeah that’s exactly right! Female surfing has come a long way in the past few years, and especially now it isn't such an offbeat thing to see the chicks out in the line-up.

Personally I feel like as a female we have to prove ourselves out in the surf, and by 'prove' I mean catch a wave and show the men that we can actually stand up and do turns. Otherwise we just get snaked or dropped in on.

But if you grow up surfing in your local area and stick there you should be right. Which is what it’s like for everybody. I grew up surfing Port Kembla and still do. My entire family is there and I get called on to waves and everyone looks out for each other, so it’s not all grim.

Everyone knows that men are predominately better at surfing than the women, but that's the whole thing, surfing shouldn’t be about who is better. It’s about escaping from reality and having fun with your mates, which is what women bring to the sport best!

Absolutely! What first got you into surfing?

I am very close with my three cousins and my uncle, and they all surf. My Dad surfs and my brother surfs. So the froth was all there and I was always at the beach doing Surf Club. So I think when I was seven Dad got my on the surfboard, and then from there my cousins would lend me their old ones to try out different shapes. And now here we are...

That's awesome! Such a good heritage. Your art covers multiple disciplines - video, photography, drawing, digital art - did it start with one in particular and expand or have you always enjoyed mixing genres?

Yeah it's very chaotic...For as long as I can remember I loved drawing. I still have all my drawings from when I was 10, and they are pretty much the same standard as what I draw now... Not sure if that's good or bad, but I love drawing, my pictures make me laugh.

I was always the kid with the camera and it's only recently that I combined the two and started making digital drawings also.

So in short, I think drawing and photos were equal, but then in time I started to combine them. It's very unmethodical, but it works.

Nice. So has the stolen gear set you back much in the production of the film?

Yeah it has. The morning I realised that everything was gone was the day I was leaving to go away with the girls for the week to shoot the film.

It was supposed to be the last big shoot in/around our home state. In a few months we are going away to South Africa, which is where Sarah is from to finish it all off.

The 300mm lens I shoot with was taken, so I obviously can’t shoot surfing without it, and it makes it even harder to shoot surfing without a camera.

Oh man, that's horrible! So I take it that's where the exhibition comes in. How can those attending help you get back on your feet? Is there a way people who can't make it can contribute?

Yeah of course! So the people attending are helping as soon as they step foot in the door. There will be a gold coin donation which will make me that next step closer to getting a camera!

The best of the best will be hanging on the walls, which makes me so excited because I haven't even made some of these works public before. I'll be able to share my adventures in real life and not just over social media. And that is truthfully what i'm most excited about. And if people choose to spend their own hard earned money on my works that would mean the world to me! 

Some people have already messaged me through Facebook saying they can't make it but they want to contribute and buy ones of my t-shirts that I got made - which is actually beautiful that people care so much!

So anyone that can't come, and have seen my works they can message me and have a chat and see what work would best suit them!

The Frivolous Exploration of Unadultered Youth is a special one-night-only show that opens in our gallery space from 6pm Friday, January 29. BYO.

Find Geo on Instagram here.