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Swell time to find the right balance

Living in Margaret River again and loving it, big-wave surfer Felicity Palmateer says she’s finally finding a balance between competitive ambitions and creative fulfilment after years on the road.

Palmateer said her COVID-19 inspired break was crucial.

Her short film Skin Deep makes its big-screen premiere at the Margaret River HEART next month alongside a small exhibition of her own creative works.

At the same time, the 28-year-old has scored a wild-card entry for the surprise Rottnest Island World Championship Tour event slated to follow next month’s Margaret River Pro.

Palmateer’s preferred Big Wave Tour competition — where she’s ranked the No.2 female in the world — has stalled, like much of the global surf industry since COVID-19.

So her win at the recent Queen of the Point at Trigg catapulted her back into the World Surf League after a time off that circuit.

In a chat this week with the Times, Palmateer said “coming home” a year ago amid the chaos of COVID-19 gave her a new perspective and a chance to reset.

Palmateer has a studio space at Hardware Creative in Witchcliffe and will exhibit her first seven artworks at the Heart when Skin Deep debuts on May 1.

“Now that things are kind of easing up, and I’ve had time to do some creative pieces as well, it’s all coming together,” she said.

The short film was a labour of love which took about a year for each minute of its 41/2-minute runtime.

It features Palmateer surfing “tastefully naked” in locations from Fiji to Hawaii, WA’s South West and North West, and also on the northern New South Wales coast.

“The whole thing, I’m nude,” she said.

“The thing which is so hard to achieve is you’re thinking how beautiful and artistic the whole film was.

“It’s about completely stepping outside my comfort zone to promote freedom.”

Palmateer enjoyed corporate sponsorship from ages 14-27, which set her on the path to chase waves in the World Surf League.

While always be grateful for those opportunities, the corporate surf industry was not without its downside.

Surfing naked might raise some eyebrows — especially in an industry where marketing frequently commodifies the female body — but Palmateer told the Times Skin Deep was different.

“My film is a performance art piece and I feel like that makes it so different,” she said.

Seven pieces will exhibit alongside the film, featuring photographs by Palmateer and others embellished with acrylic paint and white ink.

Skin Deep will screen on rotation during the opening from 5.30pm, and the exhibition runs until May 17.

Read full Augusta Margaret River Times article here.