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Life's a Beach !

Rennie Ellis


By Philippe Broad

PARIS, 4 April 1999 - Australian photographer, Rennie Ellis, surfed into Paris the other day on AOM's Sydney to Paris flight for the inauguration of his exhibition Life's a Beach !. The French airline has been quite busy in recent weeks sponsoring Australian cultural events in France. They gave active support to female Australian participants in the cinema festival, Films de Femmes, organized just outside Paris last month devoted to films produced and directed by women, and will also back the Australian participation in next month's Cannes Film Festival.

Ellis's exhibition is on view in the vast lobby of the Australian Embassy in Paris until 27 April, and brings together some 80 photographs drawn from his latest book Life's Still a Beach !. To show the extent of Ellis's fascination with Australia's beach culture, this is his third book on the subject out of a total of 17 publications.

Steeped in beach lore since his days as a lifesaver and surfer, Ellis provides a quintessential image of Australian beachlife with great affection and insight. His photographs shimmer with summer light and a graceful, infectious sensuality, taking one on an eye-opening journey around some of the best-known beaches down-under.

From the plump lady sunning behind her canvass wind-break, the chubby guy cooling off in the water with a beer while his dog looks on, the surfers pitting their skills against the waves, the pretty girls chatting as they size up the guys, the grandmas coping, their grandchildren making "rude" castles in the sand or the snoozing guys having their wildest dreams, all Australia is there !

Australian Ambassador to France, John Spender, threw a party to launch the exhibition attended by the press and Parisian "Aus-o-philes". One of the first guests to show all the way from Biarritz was, of course, Harry Hodge, President of Quiksilver (Europe), co-sponsors of the exhibition and sponsors of Life's still a Beach !

Life's Still a Beach
Hodge, who is a journalist and longtime surfing friend of Ellis, has just opened Quiksilver's second store on Paris's busy shopping street, Rue de Rivoli, after a successful initial store-launch last November on the Champs Elysées. This "life-style" oriented company is breaking new ground employing mainly "apprentices" on Paris's world-famous street where others would have hired hard-nosed sales persons with years of experience. This "laid back" approach is apparently going down well with Paris's younger set.

Other guests included Elaine Lewis - secretly known as Australia's Cultural Attachée in France - who runs the Australian Bookshop on Paris's Rue Monge, Eric Colmet Daâge, director of Photo magazine, representatives of Woolloomoolloo, the Australian restaurant in Paris and Nina Beskow, Gisèle Freund's international agent, who immediately snapped up a couple of Ellis's photos. Foster's, Australia's ubiquitous beer, made sure everyone was happy.

Life's Still a Beach

Life's still a Beach ! is on sale at both the Australian Bookshop and Quiksilver's stores in Paris for Frs 99.

Entrance to the exhibition is free.
Monday to Friday from 9.30 am to 6 pm
Australian Embassy, 4 Rue Jean Rey, 75015 Paris.

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