Guest Blog: Snorkeling with a Beard

Snorkeling with a beard: Barret Thomson

Barret Thomson’s beard lives in Sydney, Australia. It likes craft beer, fine-toothed combs, fail videos, and is an accomplished digital illustrator.


Beards weren’t made for snorkeling. I’ve learned this lesson before but I somehow remain in denial. It must be a bad seal. Of course, that has to be the reason why the salty water of Gordon’s Bay was tickling the back of my throat. I felt sabotaged as I tread water and I didn’t want to believe it was because I hadn’t shaved.

After throwing my friend the “I’m OK, I do this all the time” sign, I thought about how the hell I had been tricked into choking on salt water and krill.

The plan had been to see an annual outdoor art exhibition held along the Bondi to Tamarama coastal path. Sculpture by the Sea is held around the end of October and artists from around the world showcase their work in a very unique setting.

The coastal pathway meanders through wind carved sandstone cliffs and is battered by crashing waves. Some cliffs even hold their original Aboriginal carvings, although they had been restored in 1962. All in all, 105 installations and sculptures were spaced throughout the walkway.

While some of the sculptures were not site-specific and felt like they could have been found in a garden or hotel lobby, a good majority took advantage of the setting.

Sculpture by the Sea: Sydney, Australia

A common thread with many installations was plastic:  an aquarium filled with sea creatures made out of plastic trash, a colorful rainbow of cascading bottle caps, and a boulder covered in hundreds of gaudy neon leis. Plastic is probably the most relevant material since it’s found everywhere and the ocean is eating it up.

Back in the water now, I was still treading and fiddling with my mask when I realized the snorkel wasn’t attached to the side of my head anymore. The little black plastic clip that connected the two pieces had snapped and disappeared. Catherine pointed out a huge stingray; somewhere the seaweed embraced the orphaned clip.

Shit I thought and swam back to shore.

About: Sculpture by the Sea

About Barret Thomson’s Illustrations

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