The last of this crop of Photographer's Stories comes from long time contributor Leo Sharp - scroll down for the visual excellence which awaits your eyeballs, ranging from Cornish shipwreck no complys to previously untouched Liverpudlian rails to Scottish coastal miniramps, and more...
Photographer's Stories - Leo Sharp
2015 heralded the last print issue of Sidewalk magazine, and after 20 years I’m proud to still be a part of it.
Andrew ‘Evz’ Evans had his ‘Haunts’ in that last issue (221), but this ollie photo was actually shot during the summer of 2014. I remember Mackey from Lost Art skate shop being keen to skate that day. I almost badgered him into 50-50ing his first handrail in a few years, but that’s another story!
Evz had about an hour before he had to go to work. He's a chef so is on his feet all day, but this fact did not dampen his enthusiasm one bit. I knew that he’d talked about ollieing this rail for a while, which a few people had tried but none had rolled away from. Legend has it that Geoff Rowley took one look and said “Fuck that!". Geoff is obviously no pussy when it comes to getting gnarly, but his and many others denial is probably due to the extremely short run up.
Luckily, the rail is right next to a some rad smooth flat ground, high ledges and a spot dubbed ‘2 up 5 down’ by the Liverpool locals. After about 5 minutes of warming up, Evz was ready to give it a go. The drop is no joke, and likely to administer immediate hot pockets to anyone brave enough to huck. And that’s if you manage to land on your board...
Evz first attempt resulted in a solid landing but wheel-bite denied rollaway. As the echoes of 4 lumps of urethane being smashed onto concrete paving slabs died away, the assembled crew winced. As you can see from the picture, he actually tweaked his second attempt in classic Evz style and I thought for a split second that he was going to kick it away. But he stuck the landing and rolled away clean...the impact was so harsh that he burst the button on his trousers!
After many high fives and props (and someone sacrificing a shoelace for Evz to use as a belt), Evz announced his intention to try a kick flip. This didn’t go so well, resulting in a heel bruise and him not being able to put his foot on the floor. Somehow he went and worked his 8 hour shift in the kitchen straight afterwards. Major props to Evz for killing himself for the camera on more than one occasion. I hope 2016 brings many more visual skateboarding delights from this moustachioed northern human!
Mancunian/Cornish transplant and hype man Eddie Belvedere has single handedly kick started his own scene here in Cornwall. ‘The K.S.G.’ or ‘Kernow Sea Gulls’ are a swarthy band of Cornish skateboarders from various towns around the county. This is no mean feat, as pretty much the only place you can go to meet skateboarders from around Cornwall is Mount Hawke indoor skatepark. Indeed, during the pre-Belvedere era it was rare for Cornish skaters to venture out of their own towns. Whether this was due to weed induced lethargy, poor public transport or a ‘why would we need to go anywhere else?’ attitude, by driving all over the county to pick-up/drop-off whoever wants to skate Eddie has sparked somewhat of a renaissance with his northern keenness.
A few of my photography students had previously been to shoot this shipwreck located near Sennen Cove on the southern tip of Cornwall. I had always been curious as to whether there was a part of it that was skateable, so when I finally got round to going there was only one person I had in mind. I knew Eddie would be stoked on climbing down the almost sheer cliff face and wouldn’t be bummed if all we found were some bits of rusty old iron. I had checked the tide times before going, as if you go when it’s too high you run the risk of being swept out to sea!
I knew it was going to be a good day as on our walk to the wreck we randomly met long time Cornish skater and ex-Adio/Heathen skateboards ripper Paul Rimmer. Paul has been on a Cornish hiatus for the last few years, living in the South East of England, and readily agreed to accompany us on our mission.
It turns out that part of the container ship (The RMS Mulheim
) is still intact, and part of the debris next to it just happens to form a skateable flat bank (sort of!). It’s a good thing that Eddie loves a bit of a challenge as he had to run onto his board before navigating around razor sharp shards of rusty steel hull to get to the 2 foot wide sloping section. After a couple of frontside ollies, Eddie decided that a 180 No Comply (or 43) would look good. He was just about to try one when his board shot out and went down a narrow section between two twisted bits of wreckage. For a second it looked like the session was over until Eddie somehow managed to get his dwarfish form ferreted down the sketchily tight chasm. His rust encrusted arm emerged victoriously holding his skateboard like a modern day version of King Arthur’s sword, only with more plywood and less shimmering samite.
With Paul’s flash holding assistance, we managed to get a shot of Eddie’s shirtless no comply.
If you’re in the Cornish neck of the woods I highly recommend taking a walk by this wreck. I also recommend following Eddie’s K.S.G. Instagram account @kernruleseverythingaroundme
I was stoked to be asked along on the Landscape skateboards trip to Portugal in May of 2015. The tight crew of Snowy, Jed Coldwell, Nick Stansfield, Tyrone O’Hanrahan, Matlok Bennett-Jones and an injured Joe Gavin with Sean ‘Nano’ Lomax on filming duties only served as further ampage!
The initial idea was to fly into Porto for a couple of days then head up to north to skate some less seen Portuguese terrain. Unfortunately the elements conspired against us. When we reached our idyllic Air BnB cottage, located on a beautiful estuary right on the northern border of Portugal, the 5-day forecast heralded nothing but torrential rain.
This meant an 8 hour journey back down south to Lisbon where the weather looked ok, or zero skateboarding. Luckily both Nano and myself were designated drivers so could share the driving and navigating duties. I was coached in the ways of loading up your route on Google Maps whilst still under wifi, then turning off 3G to save data roaming charges. I think it was somewhere on this journey that Stanners or Matlok decided to buy a Craig David CD. Due to the amount of ‘crending’ going on in the back of the van, this purchase was received with raucous enthusiasm. Craig's classics were then repeatedly played at full volume for the rest of the trip - whether this was due to a lack of any solid radio stations on the Portuguese airwaves or because we actually grew to like Tracks 6 and 11, I will never know.
After a full day of travel we arrived at a second plush Air BnB apartment just outside Lisbon. To say the boys were chomping at the bit to go skating is probably an understatement. Thanks to Ricardo Fonseca and Pedro from Surge Magazine for hooking us up with Rui Serrao who appears to be king of skateboarding in Almada, a town across the bridge from the main city of Lisbon.
We met Rui at Almada’s main spot in the town centre, where the local council had allowed skaters to build their own ledges! The combo of this, the existing marble ledges and perfectly smooth floor alongside a central location has created a beast of a skate spot.
Rui showed us around a host of other spots during the next couple of days, not least of all this mellow handrail with a high as hell drop off. It was more than a little sketchy due to the fact that the road to the right of frame is actually an off ramp for a main motorway through the city! At any given moment a double decker bus would come flying around the corner to be confronted with Matlok skidding on his arse across the floor and me laid in the middle of the road. Judging by the manic expressions on the bus drivers' faces, I doubt they would have stopped. Luckily Matlok isn’t one to piss around, and he nailed the 50-50 in a few tries.
Towards the end of summer 2015, one time Glaswegian local and legendary Australian skateboarder Morgan Campbell and myself made the journey up to Glasgow with one mission in mind - shoot some Scottish skateboarding. Actually, Morgan wanted to see some old friends and I wanted to make my annual pilgrimage to the north to see what kind of 4 wheeled shenanigans were afoot, but if that included taking photos of a few bangers then all the better. Luckily the weather smiled upon us and we managed to get an article together.
The spot in this photo has been dubbed ‘Plastic Beach’ and is located on the Eastern fringes of Edinburgh. When The Space
skatepark in North Berwick closed down there was no home for any of the ramps to be moved to. Local skaters spearheaded by Ruari Britee-Steer managed to get the ramp moved to it’s current location on a bit of wasteland next to a sewage works!
After seeing a photo that Graham Tait from North Magazine had shot of this place, I immediately wanted to go there for obvious reasons. On our last day in Scotland, Morgan and myself high tailed it across Edinburgh through torrential downpours to meet an on-call-to-his-pregnant-wife-Colin Adam for the possibility of shooting something. As the gods of luck were on our side all that week, somehow the rain buggered off over the sea and allowed Mark Burrows, Adam Paris and Rauri to dry off the ramp for a sesh before dark. That’s Mark on the flat bottom having just taken a slam, probably knackered after grafting all day plastering someone’s ceiling.
Thanks to Paul Vx for filming and getting crew together in Glasgow, Walker Murdoch and his wife Sara for putting us up, Ben Leyden, Colin Adam, Div Adam, Ross McSherry, Jamie Bolland, Mark Foster, Toby Paterson, Tom Shimmin, Aaron Wilmot, Ross Zajac, Kieran Menzies, Freddie Lusk, Grant Johnstone, Raberdeen and all the assembled Kelvingrove/Glasgow/Edinburgh crews.
Here’s to next year!
Got to include this one just because it’s shot at the spot which I skated for innumerable days between the years of 1987 and 1997. Not many people know this, but Milton Keynes bus station is actually the centre of the universe. Ask any local and they will verify this information. Milton Keynes has the most trees of any ‘city’ in Europe and probably the most marble (which is actually polished granite). Growing up skating with with ex-Blueprint skateboards pro Rob Selley was a treat on many occasions, getting to watch him perform switch ledge techery before it had really been ‘invented'. Rob was the first person I can remember seeing do a switch flip backside tailslide big spin out. It was on the Milton Keynes train station ledges and probably in the early 1990s. At the time myself and everyone else could not comprehend how he did it.
Sean Smith learnt the skateboarding ropes from Rob and in many ways one upped his teacher. He took that switch flip back tail and did it UP the now infamous ’T-block’ at the bus station. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you watch his part
in the second Sidewalk video ‘In Progress’.
Sean doesn’t skate as much these days, but I managed to get him out during Christmas 2014 and badgered him into doing this switch crook. Like any natural, his poise and style haven’t left him and he makes skateboarding look very easy indeed. Fingers crossed Sean steps back up in 2016!