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Women Making Waves: Holly Ogden

Women Making Waves: Holly Ogden

Turning tired surfboards into works of art, Holly carefully picks her canvas and lets her passions flow.

I grew up on the northern beaches of Perth in Western Australia, always by the ocean. After moving here from Manchester, England, at a young age, I couldn’t stay away from the beach. I trained in surf lifesaving at a young age and as I got older, working a 9-5, my mind constantly wandered and wondered why can’t life be a beach? I made a drastic change and decided if I loved surfing, diving, creating and the ocean so much, why couldn’t I be surrounded by it all day?

I spent four years travelling and living in Indonesia and Thailand, painting wall murals, ukuleles, guitars and surfboards, as well as surfing, swimming with sharks and turtles, and completing my dive master certification. All this alongside meeting incredible people and drinking from plenty of fresh coconuts.

I began creating my artwork to express myself and tell a story of the travel life I was leading. As my art progressed I was amazed by the response I received from everyone I crossed paths with in the surf and dive community. Fellow travellers and business owners began requesting my work for their boards and walls, and I realised that people were really enjoying what I made.

Whether you’re on the surface of the ocean or 30m down, the feeling is like nothing else. Not only are you at one with nature, you’re a part of it too. And you’re not just observing the wildlife, you’re one of them; it’s so primitive and electric. That’s the feeling I want to convey with through my artwork.

Our oceans are in danger from pollution and other factors, yet we’re so quick to focus on the negatives. It’s important to know facts and be conscious of them, but positivity is vital to instil change. Because if you love something you want to protect it, right? So if we spread love for our oceans, people will fight for them.

Our oceans are in danger from pollution and other factors, yet we’re so quick to focus on the negatives. It’s important to know facts and be conscious of them, but positivity is vital to instil change. Because if you love something you want to protect it, right? So if we spread love for our oceans, people will fight for them.

I want people to look at my work at feel all fuzzy inside; the same feeling I get when I create it or when you surf or dive. I usually use pre-loved boards as a canvas, mainly because they tell a story of their own. Each piece takes a huge chunk of time: de-waxing the used boards, sanding, priming, painting and glossing. I paint by hand with self-taught techniques and a very small brush to create the effects, alongside Posca pens and some spray paint.

My current collection of surfboards and guitars is on display at Red Cloud Art Space, Yallingup, in the Margaret River region of Western Australia. I am constantly creating and making new pieces. I believe what you paint on is just as important as what you paint. Using surfboards, guitars and other objects as my canvas, helps people realise my vision and understand my journey. I am currently painting the outside of a caravan, a wall mural in my home, and always have at least five surfboards at different stages of completion.

Painting helps me express myself whilst linking my love for the ocean and art. I use art as my creative outlet, calming my mind; it’s something that relaxes me and makes me happy. The feeling of achievement upon completing a piece is pretty special. I feel privileged to have my work displayed and am looking forward to my future progress with my creativity.

This article appeared in a previous issue of SurfGirl magazine.

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