Watch: Martin Tullemans interview

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

By his own admission, Martin Tullemans began taking photos as a means to an end. If he had to take photos to support his itinerant beachside lifestyle, then photos he would take! 

But in the process of transaction, Tullemans discovered a hidden talent with a camera, not only of technical proficiency, nor tenacity or creativity, both of which he had, but the ability to capture an era in an image. To reduce the world to the size of a vision finder.

It's no surprise then that many of Tullemans' images have come to define various eras of surfing. Dressed in his trademark camos, Tullemans main theatres were the urban jungle of Queensland's Gold Coast, and the (then) wild jungles of Indonesia where he began taking early forays beyond Bali.

Affectionately known as the Cosmic Pygmy, among other nicknames, Tullemans character was as renowned as his craft - he had many and evolving worldviews that he'd generously share. The stereotype of the photographer as a silent observer of the world didn't apply. If Tullemans followed script and only let his camera do the talking the surf world would've been poorer for it.

In recent years, there'd been quiet word about Tullemans' declining health, and last night came news of his passing from complications with dementia.

While filming his documentary 'What Is Surfing?', Tim Bonython recorded this interview with Tullemans, and in it he makes plain his love of surfing and for the spirit of surfers: "We were knights for the cause of human liberation..."

Vale Martin Tullemans.

Comments

Uncrowded kook's picture
Uncrowded kook's picture
Uncrowded kook commented Tuesday, 1 Dec 2020 at 4:37pm

Rip Marty

megzee's picture
megzee's picture
megzee commented Tuesday, 1 Dec 2020 at 4:45pm

R.I.P Marty.....Another real surfing family character....
Hopefully somebody can post a few of MT's classic shots..

It's easy to be brave from a distance.

marcus's picture
marcus's picture
marcus commented Tuesday, 1 Dec 2020 at 5:02pm

RIP MTV
met you a few times island and blackrock, had some laughs
love your work.
i still laugh how lucky you were at blackrock when your car full of camera gear was broken into and all they took was your wallet.

i remember the internet when it was just for intelligent people but.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Tuesday, 1 Dec 2020 at 5:02pm

ha he had some good ones. classic Kirra lineup shots for days.
Vale Marty.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 1 Dec 2020 at 5:08pm

RIP Marty
What a good view of what surfing was/is & the way the southern Goldy has changed. To still experience that 'sharing the kill' rather than everyone 'chomping the carcass' - won't take that for granted.
Thanks for interview Tim.

radiationrules's picture
radiationrules's picture
radiationrules commented Tuesday, 1 Dec 2020 at 5:23pm

vale marty..great interview tim..i came across Marty at Lakey Peak in 1990 - I was terrified of him, as I thought he was experiencing psychosis..and was unaware of his actions and power..now watching that interview I can relate to his perspectives and have a greater understanding of his frustration with the "dance" becoming an "athletic" pursuit...which was pretty much what he was frustrated about way back then..always a sad day when we lose the outliners.

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Tuesday, 1 Dec 2020 at 5:27pm

Ripping interview! Enjoyed his work over many years and he always came across as a good bloke in the mags of the day. That interview kinda confirmed it. His pics late 80's probably had a bit to do with my decision to spend weeks at Lakey Peak in 90, 91 & 92

VALE Marty.

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Tuesday, 1 Dec 2020 at 6:08pm

A real enthusiast. I remember him in 94 at Lakeys sitting in the channel on his surf mat contraption. He reckoned looking after pro surfers could be hard work some times, although it was obvious that he was highly respected by the guys he was photographing.

One of the pioneers and true characters of the surfing world. He will be missed.

PCS PeterPan's picture
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PCS PeterPan commented Tuesday, 1 Dec 2020 at 7:36pm

R.I.P Marty , so sad , so sad .
So many epic images , and so many epic adventures .

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Tuesday, 1 Dec 2020 at 8:04pm

Great interview...captured Marty's spirit well. First met him as a grom when he was photographing an ad for Cheetah swimwear at my local beach. Anyone growing up on the Goldie would remember the girls they had, we couldn't believe our eyes. Marty had to kick us out of the way repeatedly but he was laughing the whole time. We always use to bring it up whenever we crossed paths at Lakeys or on the GC and have a laugh.
RIP mate.

I'm not cheap,
But I'm free.

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash commented Wednesday, 2 Dec 2020 at 10:32am

Never met him, but wish I had, that's a great interview.
Thanks Tim

Remigogo's picture
Remigogo's picture
Remigogo commented Monday, 7 Dec 2020 at 12:14am

My sentiments exactly.

RIP Marty. Valhalla...

ljkarma's picture
ljkarma's picture
ljkarma commented Wednesday, 2 Dec 2020 at 11:04am

shooting in the 70's and 80's was a hard slog, manual old clunky heavy equipment, slow and expensive film and pulling focus every shot. Then wait a week or more to get your trannies/ proof sheet back to even se what you got.
So as Marty says "you did it because you loved it" not for any financial reward and there was a healthy competitive brotherhood of photogs both on land and in the water.
Marty was the epitome of the real deal core journeyman and his images made a lot of surfers and magazine publishers rich and famous.
Vale Marty ...total respect!

spookypt's picture
spookypt's picture
spookypt commented Wednesday, 2 Dec 2020 at 12:46pm

An inherent character and mainstay in my early years. Very Very Sad. RIP mate!

truebluebasher's picture
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truebluebasher commented Wednesday, 2 Dec 2020 at 4:27pm

Great work to Stu & Tim & The Crew...something real special
Goldie crew will respectfully share some iconic photos.

Say Cooly! Say International Surf Photographer Base Camp.
Goldie WSR / WSL Panoramic Gateway to the World Tour
Cooly / Burleigh Towns are wallpapered with Iconic Surf & Beach imagery.

Sunny Marty could see that... & knew that his Surf images had to be cutting edge.

Just on a 1970's Goldie level alone, Marty redefined the surf arena...on every level.

1. PT Soul Arch...
https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0766/5267/products/Marty001.jpg?v=1434...
Kirra Breakwall afforded a front row 3d seat to the surfer and in return an audience.
Very much a controlled wave studio & a huge leap forward in Surfing Portraits.
To think PT was soon to be world Champ...A Model Surfer! { Iconic Photo }
https://i.nextmedia.com.au/Utils/ImageResizer.ashx?n=https%3a%2f%2fi.nex...

2. Burley Barrel pressure point.
http://cronullasurfmuseum.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/core.png
Marty perfectly frames the '70's Surf Vid Breakthru (surfer,cam,barrelled - Check!)
Yep! This one is also {iconic} in Cronulla Surf Museum.
Notes: Video Cam man is Steve Core (Movies '72 Natural Flow + '75 Ocean Rythms)
Surfer : Butch Cooney....( That's a full on hectic gnarly Barrel Photo )

3. Nude Surfing ...Again Marty seizes GC '70's nude era...Now impossible to replicate.
https://i.nextmedia.com.au/Utils/ImageResizer.ashx?n=https%3a%2f%2fi.nex...
Again > Soon World Champ & Even today these images are cheeky & { iconic }.

4. WSR Aerial - Snapper Backwash > Airline Salute > Rockbreak { iconic } Point.
https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0766/5267/products/burleigh_grande.jpg...

Goldie join swellnet crew in saluting Marty as our next level Surf legend.

{ R.I.P } Marty

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Wednesday, 2 Dec 2020 at 5:24pm

Re the Nude shoot Marty said -
Rabbits sainted mum refused to speak to me until 1997, and i dont blame her !

megzee's picture
megzee's picture
megzee commented Wednesday, 2 Dec 2020 at 4:40pm

Nice work TBB...thanks for the efforts......
The PT shot is EPIC......

It's easy to be brave from a distance.

Bnkref's picture
Bnkref's picture
Bnkref commented Thursday, 3 Dec 2020 at 9:07pm

x2 on both of those

Finntim's picture
Finntim's picture
Finntim commented Wednesday, 2 Dec 2020 at 5:07pm

That was a great insight into the man, you could see the passion still there.Vale indeed. Well done Tim.

ken.vincent's picture
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ken.vincent commented Wednesday, 2 Dec 2020 at 6:30pm

Met Marty once & it left an indelible impression (much like his photos). He was a legend, character, and he did not give a fig who you were - if you were talking to him you were his equal. He has left a remarkable body of work as his mark on the world. RIP . Thanks for the interview Tim.

anothermindlessopinion's picture
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anothermindless... commented Wednesday, 2 Dec 2020 at 6:43pm

Watching this makes me regret not catching up with Marty over the last decade. People drift in and out of your life but characters like him, with his whale heart and larrikin mind are rare and precious. It's all well and good to say now what a legend he was, but I should have told him to his face. RIP.

mick-free's picture
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mick-free commented Wednesday, 2 Dec 2020 at 9:25pm

Not sure what year maybe '99 or 2001. Still have image of him on zodiac going over the falls at Lakey Peak on a rogue wide set as he was clambering trying to shut his camera case. Classic character, classic horder too. We keep losing the good ones. RIP

Mick Free FIFOFOMO

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Thursday, 3 Dec 2020 at 1:19am

MTV's VALE.
There will never be another.

jasper99's picture
jasper99's picture
jasper99 commented Thursday, 3 Dec 2020 at 8:09am

What a gooru. To see all the changes and to still have an attitude that good is unreal.RIP

Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous commented Thursday, 3 Dec 2020 at 11:27am

Just as it made me sad to miss MP's funeral, a tear or two roll down my face, again realising another huge 'influencer' has passed, whom I didn't realise I knew until too late...

Growing up under the old sea eagle's wings has been a blessing and a curse. Marty has a collection of MP's memories that not even MP has/had.

These people need to be recognised, venerated, loved, understood and respected during their lifetime.

Ultimate peace to Marty, and to MP - long live the eccentric genius!

bellavista's picture
bellavista's picture
bellavista commented Thursday, 3 Dec 2020 at 6:45pm

Marty was a genuine and passionate guy
Funny and mischievous, emblematic of that period in surfing journalism and the travelling circus of the time
RIP fella

Bnkref's picture
Bnkref's picture
Bnkref commented Thursday, 3 Dec 2020 at 9:10pm

Growing up as a lidder and voracious consumer of booger mags in the early to mid 90s, I remember MT being a prolific contributor. So many good shots.

Brad Ferrier's picture
Brad Ferrier's picture
Brad Ferrier commented Friday, 4 Dec 2020 at 12:01pm

The most honest and enjoyable personal interview (surf related) I think I’ve ever watched.
Eccentric Genius !!. You nailed it ApeAnon.

Well done Tim, nice easy interviewing skills. Could listen to those stories of individuals all day.

Pete Jovic's picture
Pete Jovic's picture
Pete Jovic commented Saturday, 5 Dec 2020 at 2:01pm

It seemed impossible to pick up a surf mag and not see one (or many) of Marty's images. Like others from his era, they were pioneers and Marty's images remain immortalised. Really saddened to hear the news of Marty's passing.

shae.robertson's picture
shae.robertson's picture
shae.robertson commented Sunday, 6 Dec 2020 at 3:20pm

Was it Marty who once said - "The best surfer in the water is the one who's having the most fun" ???

Shae Robertson

dangerouskook2000's picture
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dangerouskook2000 commented Wednesday, 6 Jan 2021 at 11:43am

What a great man. Great interview Tim. Thanks