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Press Release: Flotsam Festival Program Drops In

MEDIA RELEASE Gold Coast (Australia), Tuesday April 4, 2023

The program for Gold Coast’s Flotsam Festival has been announced, with the website for the two-week film, photography and digital celebration of all things ocean-related going live. Returning for its second iteration, the festival will run 1-14th May, 2023.

Staged like a giant interactive arts trail, the festival pays homage to the Southern Gold Coast’s world-class surf breaks and iconic coastline through imagery inspired by surf, sand and sea. Programming will include a world-first digital art unveiling alongside it's trademark maelstrom of short film premieres, workshops, in-depth discussions with film makers and photographers, and photographic exhibitions staged both indoor and out. 

Flotsam Festival pop up events will pepper precincts in Burleigh, Palm Beach, Currumbin, Tugun, Kirra and Coolangatta, with key events to include:

Multi Day Events

1-14 May - Flotsam Focal Point Outdoor photo exhibition that captures peak moments by top surf photographers and places them back in the vantage points they were taken from. Curated by Tim Baker, this series of installations tell the stories behind the images through informative captions and scanable QR codes for extra multimedia content. The photo trail traverses Kirra point, Coolangatta beachfront, Greenmount headland, Rainbow Bay, Snapper Rocks and Point Danger lookout. Featuring images from Simon Williams, Marty Tullemans, Andrew Shield, Fran Miller, Joli, Mal Sutherland, Ted Grambeau, Albe Falzon, and Tony Harrington, with a fresh update to be unveiled. Various beachside locations (Free)


1-14 May - Flotsam: DRIFT Internationally acclaimed artist Craig Walsh will unveil DRIFT, a world first site-specific digital sculpture responsive to environmental elements affecting the southern Gold Coast’s surf conditions like wave data, wind direction and sand flow - in real time. The film projection digital artwork will take the form of abstract kinetic 3D sculpture made to appear as transient sand particles that physically occupy and move around a defined architectural space (Free)

1- 14 May - If These Walls Could Talk A site takeover of Coolangatta’s iconic Pink Hotel’s fenceline with a giant series of historic Gold Coast images from lens lord Dick Hoole. Hit the QR code, hear the banter. Pink Hotel, Coolangatta (Free)


1- 14 May - Flotsam: Now And Then Group Exhibition traveling through time with images from local surfing past and present. Featuring Mal Sutherland, Joli, Jordan Keir/ Nuggets Studios, Kirra Hill Community and Cultural Centre (Free)

1-14 May - Trent Mitchell x Mysa Trent Mitchell’s black and white series/outdoor fenceline exhibition will travel to a fresh new location, The Mysa Motel (Free)


1-14 May - Light Experiment Volume 3: Clementine Bourke exhibition, Love Street Café, Kirra  (Free)

1-14 May - Just Too Curious: Ella Tubman exhibition, Fizz HQ, Burleigh (Free)


1-14 May - She: Franziska Link Exhibition with water photography and projection from waterwoman, surfer, sailor and DOP Franziska Link, 4Pines Coolangatta (Free)


1-14 May - Element: Shell Bankier exhibition, Barefoot Barista Palm Beach (Free)

1-14 May - Flotsam: Shades A striking Black + White exhibition featuring Fiona Pyke, Tristam Evison, Jordan Keir/ Nugget Studios, Burleigh Barrels (Free)


1-14 May - Joe Larkin Retrospective Exhibition featuring handcrafted vintage surfboards, film footage & images celebrating Joe Larkin, one of Australia's pioneering surfboard makers. RBR Holidays, Rainbow Bay (Free)


2-14 May - Ted Grambeau’s Waves of Consequence The latest dispatch of awe-inspiring images from global explorer Grambeau, Dust Temple, Currumbin (Free)

Exhibition Preview: 30 April 7pm


2-14 May - Inner Atlas: Trent Mitchell explores man’s primordial relationship with the rhythms of the sea, and in a broader sense sunlight and water, our essential life bloods. Dust Temple, Currumbin (Free)

Exhibition Preview: 30 April 7pm


3-13 May - Ian & Erick Regnards Floating Bits With Floating Bits, Ian and Erick won International Photographers of the Year in New York at the International Photography Awards Special Category and numerous awards around the world since. The twin brothers achieved the (almost) impossible in 2007 by taking photos underwater whilst using a specially adapted large format 4×5 Polaroid film and medium format 6×6 film cameras, where only one shot could be taken at a time. Floating Bits has previously exhibited in Perth and Brisbane to great acclaim, and the unique, underwater format pioneered by Ian and Erick has featured in National Geographic. Art-Work Studios (Free)


Single Day Events

3 May - Flotsam x Climate Community Night: A panel exploring how art can intersect ocean-activism through mediums like photography with a panel exploring images and their meaning, and how to approach activism through art+photography as a medium/ tips for other trying to do the same. Mo’s Desert Clubhouse, Burleigh (Free)


4 May - Floating Bits Opening Evening Art-Work Studios (Free)

4 May - Light Experiment Volume 3 Opening Evening Love Street Café, Kirra (Free)


5 May – Flotsam x LAYR A labour of love stretching several years, Dean James/Layer of Salt collaborated with some of Australia’s finest shapers to showcase his images glassed onto the decks of 15 boards. Exhibited alongside prints and projections, with panel of featured surfers, board collaborators, and film makers. Burleigh Brewing Taphouse (Free)


5 May - Flotsam Media Makers Forum Rotating panels of the leading creatives from the magazine, podcast, film, book and TV realms. A youth, travel + surf forum with figures from the world of various media to discuss its future. Topics include diversity, new media, the future of print, and maker’s showcase, Rydges Hotel, Airport (Free)


6 May - Joli’s Full Day Surf Photography Masterclass Kirra Hill Community and Cultural Centre (Ticketed)


6 May - Flotsam Poetry In Motion: Filmmaker Simon Saffigna will unveil an ambitious collaboration with writer Daniel Carmichael honouring two of the Gold Coast most celebrated surfers – Michael Peterson and Joel Parkinson – while raising funds for the next generation of surf talent. Carmichael, who penned poetry featured on the stone monument honouring MP at Kirra Point, also wrote a poem commemorating the tenth anniversary of Parkinson’s world title. Matched with footage from Saffigna’s vault, MP’s poem will be performed as a song by the Mason Rack Band. Joel’s poem will be voiced by the MC and Auctioneer of the night, Mark Warren, followed by Saffigna’s premiere of a 30 minute film. The event concludes with a charity auction of signed prints with proceeds going to Surfing the Spectrum and the junior development divisions of southern Gold Coast board riders clubs: D’Bah, Snapper, Kirra, Alley, Palm Beach and Burleigh. Southern Cross University GC Campus Theatre (Ticketed)


6 May - Partner Event: Dog Dayz Skate demos, 12 bands, food trucks and photo exhibitions and projections from some of Flotsam’s cross over surf/skate lensfolk. Mo’s Desert Clubhouse, Burleigh (Ticketed)


7 May - Flotsam x Igers Photo Meetup Photographers from hobbyists to professionals are invited to this series of free sunrise sessions to impart or gain skills and connect with the wider photography community, Greenmount Beach (Free)

7 May - (Surf) Girls On Film Stoking momentum for women’s surf media coverage from all sides of the lens, a female-led panel and curated selection of international shorts, photo projections, and film. Laura Enever, Clementine Bourke, Cailtin Myer, Jesse Jensen, Marina Alonso, Fiona Pyke, Ella Bourne, Lucy Small, Juniper Harper and more. Tom Atkin Hall (Ticketed)


7 May - Art Recycler Youth Surf Photo Collage Workshops Inspired by surf comics and flip books, participants will collage images from surfing magazines to recycle surf art, with works digitised and projected.

9.30 am, All ages, Mint Art House, Burleigh (Free)

3.30 pm, Girls edition, Tom Atkin Hall, Tugun (Free)


10 May - Erick Regnard Artist Talk Art-Work Studios (Free)


11 May - Ted Grambeau  + Trent Mitchell Talk Story Dust Temple Currumbin (Ticketed)


12 May - International Surf Flick Marathon: Scouring the planet for the best releases of ’23 for a multi-hour movie fest w/ special guests. Tom Atkin Hall, Tugun (Ticketed)


12 May - Lightwaves Epic footage and projections from some of the area’s finest lensfolk and a lineup of atmospheric, soundtrack-worthy live sounds with experimental five piece, Luja Murfi. Tom Atkin Hall, Tugun (Ticketed)

12 May - Grajagan – Surfing In The Tiger’s Lair Join publisher John Ogden and special guests for Jack McCoy’s book into explorations of Grajagan, Surf World Museum, Currumbin (Ticketed)


13 May - Surfrider x Flotsam Beach Cleanup  Greenmount Beach (Free) 

13 May - Mobile Photography Photo Walk Mobile media lecturer Rob Layton hosts a free walking photo workshop to learn skills to apply immediately while traversing the Flotsam Focal Point exhibition, Greenmount (Free) 

13 May - Justin Gane Retrospective 20th Anniversary of Wanderjahr + Re-Pulse QLD Premiere, Coolangatta Hotel (Ticketed)  


14 May - Flotsam Homegrown Supporting emerging film-makers, showcasing local talent, and telling authentic local stories, Homegrown will close down Flotsam for 2023. The top ten finalists of the Flotsam surf clip comp will screen, with a pool of cash + prizes including $3000 cash first prize thanks to Burleigh Barrels, a $1500 holiday thanks to Bali Retreats, a $500 cash people's choice award from Burleigh Barrels, and loads of prizes thanks to Billabong and We Are Feel Good Inc. The evening will also feature photo exhibitions and photography competition announcements with Surfers 4 Climate and Art Roll, and live music by Amy John Roberts. Burleigh Barrels (Ticketed)

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About Flotsam Arts

Flotsam Festival is a multi-site film and photography celebration inspired by surf culture. The third annual Flotsam Festival will run from Wednesday 1st May to Sunday 12th May, 2024. Flotsam Festival is presented by Flotsam Arts Inc., a not for profit association formed to create pivotal events that showcase the Gold Coast’s iconic surf culture through photo and film, and to create opportunities for photographic artists to extend their practice through mentorships, workshops and exhibition opportunities.

Flotsam Festival is supported by the City of Gold Coast, Experience Gold Coast, and the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.

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