Sam Bleakley
As a geographer I have put theory into practice through a deep love of travel. I have long identified with Joseph Conrad's description of the character Marlow in Heart of Darkness, who says: '...when I was a boy...I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours at South America, or Africa, or Australia and lose myself in all the glories of exploration. At that time there were many blank spaces on the earth and when I saw one that looked particularly inviting...I would put my finger on it and say: when I grow up I will go there.'

A century after Conrad's book, the blank spaces that Marlow talks about have all been mapped, many colonised. But for surfers there is another cartographic mystery - Conrad's blank spaces equate with unridden waves and cultural tourism frontiers. There are thousands of miles of coastline that host waves. My work (usually with John Callahan and surfEXPLORE) has taken me to - Algeria, Antigua, Austria, Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, the British Virgin Islands, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Maldives, Martinique, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Panama, the Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tunisia, U.A.E, U.S.A, Vietnam and Western Sahara.
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Geography literally means 'to write about the earth' (from its Greek definition). Geographers explore relationships between space, place and identity, and often seek to fuse both scientific and arts or humanities based fields of investigation. My passion for geo-graphic - 'earth-writing' - projects of exploration and travel is not about classification and mapping, but about telling stories - of the connections between people and place.
Through extreme surf travel and consequent writing, aestheticized by jazz, I attempt to give a voice to the 'brilliant corners' of the world (and their cultural tourism appeal), revealing the character of place by getting inside the mind of a coastline as much as a people. Surfers have a unique and peculiar perspective sitting with their backs to the land meeting the gaze of the sea. But surfers are not all at sea. Surfers return to shore on each wave, and at the end of each surf they engage with those whose homes and livelihoods are on the coast. Writing emerging from this activity must take on this strange perspective of the katabasis - moving from the interior to coast - so elegantly caught by the poet St-John Perse.
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Video: Sam Bleakley - Explorer - India   |  Sam Bleakey - Explorer - Barbados |   Sam Bleakley - Explorer - Philippines

Presenter Showreel 3 Barbados
Sam Bleakley
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surfEXPLORE - Gabon