Mambo Lives… In Retrospective

Australian culture misses Mambo like a wayward limb, whether they know it or not.

It’s baffling in 2018 to think that a surf company was once at the forefront of Australian (not just surf) culture. But that was Mambo in its heyday. As happens with these things, it was sold, gutted, and all the talent inevitably left to go down their own separate paths. Jim Mitchell, one of the original Mambo in-house artists, is showing some of his old Mambo work, paying homage to one of the great brands of Australian popular culture. Post-Mambo Jim took what he learned and founded The Critical Slide Society, with the inspiration for the retrospective show coming from a little spring cleaning.

Whilst fixing the slider on one of his drawers, Jim came across some of his work that hadn’t seen the light of day since their creation. Lots of the artwork was preliminary sketches, proofs covered in doodles, that kind of thing, and Jim figured that there’s not much point doing them if no one’s going to see them, and decided to have a show. 70 artworks in various stages of completion will be hanging on the wall at Campbell Project Space space in Surry Hills this Thursday night.

“Mambo was a very unique company combining art, surf, music and politics,” says Jim. “I knew I was involved with something special but probably didn’t realise its full significance till later on, once it had moved on to something else. One week you’re being commissioned to design an alternative Aussie flag, next a tee print protesting Pauline Hanson’s bullshit, and then you’re in China painting the walls of one of the first nightclubs in Guangzhou after the doors opened to the West. It was endlessly entertaining.”

Get along to Campbell Project Space at 78 Campbell Street, Surry Hills this Thursday, the 1st of March, to check it out.

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