Rolling with the Punches
For Michel Lawrence, the multi-hyphenate editor of Australia’s first skateboarding magazine Slicks, flips and turns are an addictive prospect — both on and off the ramp.
Michel Lawrence is surprised and amused that I want to talk to him about a magazine he made over 40 years ago, which lasted for only three issues. “I presumed you were going to do something on InsideArt,” the filmmaker, photographer, writer and Lord knows what else says, “because VAULT’s more about art.” But I’m not interested in InsideArt (Lawrence’s documentary TV series featuring interviews with contemporary Australian artists), not really; I’m interested in Slicks, the first Australian magazine dedicated to skateboarding.
Skateboarding culture is a funny thing. It dips and dives. It mirrors youth culture while staying detached; it spits out an inordinate amount of unique creative and cultural leaders, yet is routinely dismissed by mainstream and high culture; it thrives on documentation, yet is almost indecipherable and occasionally hostile to outsiders. But the skateboarding my life has orbited around for the past 28 years is very different to the skateboarding Lawrence was exploring in late 1975. “Skateboards were really a product of beach culture, they were made for surfers to ride when the surf was down,” he says. “It’s gone from that to being a very urbanised, city-based culture. The technology has developed as well, so now the things are much more useful.
The modern skateboard is a simple thing, but it’s so good. The technology has made them so useable and it is an artform in its own way. The wheels on my old Hobie skateboard are bloody dangerous.”
In late 1975, Lawrence was fresh from his first job as a political journalist at The Australian and was hanging around ... Subscribe to read this article in full
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