Barry McGee’s Men in Transition


When he’s not arting, Baz McGee loves to shoot the curl.

All photos by Delon Ranger.

He graced Australian shores recently, and it seemed only natural to hit the well tread East Coast route from Noosa to Sydney. Barry and the gang had local boy Ellis Ericson as their tour guide, and lucked into user-friendly swells on some of surfing’s most hallowed points. When the travelling band got to Sydney they were kind enough to drop into MC HQ to show of some of Barry’s work. Beer’s were consumed and art was sold, and Barry and his entourage went home with sore heads and sun-kissed faces. Here’s some words from the man himself, fresh from the still drying pages of Monster Children, numero 50.

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I never thought we’d get the elusive Barry McGee on the phone for an interview. It just seemed impossible. I actually recall saying, ‘We’d have better luck getting Bigfoot to sit for a fucking portrait.’ But, as is often the case, I was totally wrong, and we got Barry on the phone to have a chat about all things Barry. Then Barry drove through a tunnel or something and we couldn’t make out a word he was saying. Good ol’ Murphy’s law. The reception was so bad that Barry suggested we just text questions to him, which we did, and what you have here are the interesting, happy results of that compromise.

You’ve collaborated on artworks with your daughter. Is she better than you, or are you worried that she might become better than you?

My daughter is much more grounded than I was at her age…actually more grounded than I will ever be at any age. That alone makes her much better. Which is how it should be… don’t you think?

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Can she surf?

She can surf, yes! Fair-weather surfer so far, which I applaud.

Do you guys go surfing?

Yes, we go surfing together, mostly in the summer. She rides parallel stance and, so far, leashless. She is a good swimmer, unlike me.

Jeff Canham said you were a really nice guy. Why do you hate him so much?

Jeff Canham. What a complete gentleman. I want to attain his cool, calm composure in the sea / on the land. He somehow maintains the Aloha Spirit in dirty, trashy SF—no easy feat.

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Can you do more push-ups than Kelly Slater?

I can barely do ten push-ups. I can run like hell, though. Kelly is a top athlete and has excellent linework. I’m really interested in that combo.

You don’t have an Instagram account, or do you? Because there’s someone calling themselves @barrymcgeeart and he has 70,000 followers. Is that you?

I don’t have an Instagram… I don’t know who does @barrymcgeeart but please know I would never put myself out there like that. I come from a generation that prides itself on maintaining an underground presence and dodging the mainstream trends whenever possible.

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Please list ten things you suck at.

Answering questions, finishing, responding, swimming, working in peaceful settings, understanding basic life necessities, ding repair, rudimentary arithmetic, keeping things ‘nice’, public engagement.

What’s coming up for Mr Barry McGee?

Coming up for me, just small projects and group shows: Modern Art Gallery in London in May—a very nice group show. I won’t bore you with this stuff.

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