Mark Richards Soulscape

Mark Richards Soulscape

Meeting the surfing legend, Mark Richards, was an honour. We’re used to seeing these guys in the surf doing their thing (in Mark’s case, his extraordinary thing with his entirely unique surf technique). Here he is in his t-shirt, sunglasses and his lovely wife Jen sitting together. It was very clear just how close they were. Jen would gently chip in with a few thoughts, but would give Mark the space to think and answer quietly and reflectively to the questions I was asking.

So I ask:

“Imagine you have the perfect work of art, it’s already created, and you are looking at it right now. What do you experience as you look at the piece?”

Big thoughtful pause, “Peace”.

“So, tell me about “peace” as you experience it”.
“Well, it’s an ocean scene and there’s a wave but there is no-one out. The line-up is empty but then I feel the fun, joy and exhilaration. It’s like surfing out here (he points to the sea here in the Maldives) a perfect right hand reef break, crystal clear water so you can see colours on the ocean floor.”

“What colour is peace to you?”

“Bluey green. The sea is peace. It’s a moving living thing. I’m really enjoying the colours out here and can relate to them. They are just so flourescent. I think the piece would have to contrast all these flouresent colours with the deepest blue. Can you do that?”


Even in mid conversation, Mark gasps, looking out at the ocean “Aaah look at that one”.

45 years of surfing, and still in awe of the potential that even the smallest wave carries. It amazes me how thee guys aren’t jaded, or dull, but still so full of life.

“When I lose perspective I surf. I see more beauty in the ocean than if I walk into a bar full of supermodels, which isn’t too often these days.”

(both laugh)

Jen jokes, “I’m sitting next to you, so you have to say that!”

I try to switch gears, I want to find out what happens inside when he surfs.

“What are you thinking and feeling inside when you surf?”


“Not a lot”, big pause again, “if I am thinking, it’s probably, “Holy fuck, how lucky am I to do this?!

Then I realise that I’m escaping from everything as I move away from the land. There’s a guy called Michael Thomson who said, with every stroke he took, he was leaving a problem behind. I’m a happier and better person after I surf; ask Jen!”

“Mark can be quite solitary”, says Jen, “he likes his own space”.

“Yeah, I go off into Marky world!”, and they both laugh.

“The other thing I like is the rainbow of spray that comes off the top of a wave and the oily quality of the water, how it looks so fluorescent. I guess all that stuff says something about Marky world too. It’s where I go to let go and come back happier”.

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