John's sea, sand and surreal images of surrounds

John Ibbotson of Gulmarrad with his dog looks over his backyard \
John Ibbotson of Gulmarrad with his dog looks over his backyard \"studio\" - where he shot some of the images for his latest book. Adam Hourigan

JOHN Ibbotson said he's written his new photographic book with a certain amount of whimsy, but he had permission from one of his subjects.

"One of the girls who appears early in the book are family friends for eons, and her mother said to her 'What do you think of John?'” he said.

"Ibbo's funny, but a little bit crazy,” she replied.

"I'd like it on my tombstone,” John laughed. "So I dedicated it to her because she's given me the permission to write something like this.”

His book Sea, Sand and Birds is 248 pages made of photos found and created in the local area, with the majority shot on Brooms Head beach.

"Every day I would walk the dogs on Brooms Head road, and one day I went along the beach,” he said.

"The next time I tried to walk along the road, they said no, it was up the beach, so that's where we go now.

"And every day for the last few years we've gone on the beach with the dogs and the camera.”

The extensive 248 page book, which took fives years and over 25,000 images to create not only contains record of the Brooms Head surroundings, and John's "studio” in his Gulmarrad backyard, but what John calls "imaginised images”, using the patterns and shapes to create abstract art pieces.

"Brooms Head beach is quite interesting because you have the beach on one side and the lagoon on the other, so the beach is actually convex and the water runs down the sides and creates little gullies,” he said.

"So that gives you lots of little indentations in the sand, and then you go into Photoshop and put blue into them, and it looks like the water flowing down through Arnhem Land. They are like landscapes within landscapes.”

The book explores these artistic ideas, with close ups of bubbles surrounded by frames of the beach sand trapped in waves, or composited images showing the flight of bird over the water just as a start.

The book is available locally from The Book Warehouse in Yamba and the Brooms Head shop, and is also available through John's website.

To coincide with the new book, John will exhibit some of the works from the book in an exhibition at the Old Kirk at Yamba Museum.

The opening night will be held on December 9 at 6pm, and the exhibition will run until January 29.

John's website is at

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