Flotsam Festival Unleashes 2024 Program

WORDS: Emily Halloran PHOTOGRAPHY Supplied

Flotsam Festival is returning to Gold Coast shores this May, bringing a visual tsunami of events in a jam-packed 2024 Program.

Flotsam Festival, an arts and culture celebration that shines a spotlight on the Gold Coast’s rich surf heritage and world-class waves through photography and film, will mark its third consecutive year from May 1 to May 12, 2024.

The 2024 edition will deliver several new initiatives and welcome works by a wave of international stars as part of a multi-venue arts trail encompassing indoor and outdoors spaces rolling up the coastline through Coolangatta, Kirra, Tugun, Currumbin, Palm Beach, and Burleigh.

These include Flotsam International Masters of Surf, which will feature a roll call of over 30 of the biggest and brightest luminaries of the surf photography genre, including Art Brewer, Russell Ord, Brent Bielmann, Chris Burkard, Chris Van Lennep, Jeff Flindt, Damea Dorsey, Christa Funk, Todd Glaser, John Witzig, Corey Wilson, Sean Davey, Jeff Divine, Helio Antonio, Tom Servais, Mike Coots, Rambo Estrada, and many others.

Set to launch at a cocktail function at the new Kirra Beach House, the exhibition will feature a single image from each designated Master, with select items from the collection going under the hammer to benefit each photographer’s chosen beneficiary.

Seminal surf filmmakers George Greenough, Jack McCoy, Taylor Steele and Andrew Kidman will also have work featured in showcase events during the festival, bringing with them a host of special guests and – in the case of Kidman – live music scores to classic films.

Outdoor locations and venues will be activated with pop-up exhibitions, workshops, and events throughout the two-week festival which was created to foster and spotlight individual artists, creators and talent alike, amplify the flourishing arts and cultural industry, and serve as a place of community connection. To further this aim, up and coming creatives will have no shortage of options for inspiration during the festival.

Award-winning ocean photographer Craig Parry will host a workshop on underwater photography. A free Media + Makers forum will host informative panels on topics ranging from AI to freelancing. Multiple film and photography competitions will launch this week, along with two major interactive community photography initiatives, Now + Then and Flotsam Ripples.

“Entering year three, the Flotsam lineup is set to deliver one of the largest ocean-inspired arts festivals of its kind,” said FLOTSAM Festival Director, Carolyn Emge. “The calibre of international talent from across the eras joining us will ensure this year’s exhibitions and film events are truly world class.”

“We’re excited to welcome the iconic Flotsam Festival back to the Gold Coast for its third year,” said Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate.

“The festival’s dynamic blend of film, photography and workshops not only showcases our famous coastal beauty – it fosters local creativity on an international stage. Congratulations to Experience Gold Coast for once again securing this unique event for the city.”

Highlighting the vibrant spirit of surf culture and artistic expression through ocean-inspired film and photographic arts, with an extensive calendar of events, the festival aims to captivate audiences of all interests. Flotsam Festival is presented by Flotsam Arts Inc and proudly supported by the festival’s foundation partners, the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and Experience Gold Coast.



Multi-Day Events (May 1-12)

1-12 May | Flotsam Focal Point Exhibition

Flotsam’s signature outdoor photo exhibition will make a return, with fresh inclusions to be unveiled.   Focal Point captures peak moments by top surf photographers and places them back in the vantage points they were taken from. Curated by Tim Baker, this series of installations tell the stories behind the images through informative captions and scannable QR codes for extra multimedia content. The photo trail traverses Coolangatta beachfront, Greenmount, Rainbow Bay, Snapper Rocks and Point Danger lookout, and features images from Simon Williams, Marty Tullemans, Andrew Shield, Fran Miller, Joli, Mal Sutherland, Ted Grambeau, Albe Falzon, Tony Harrington, and more TBA. Various locations. Free exhibition.

3-12 May | Flotsam International Masters of Surf

Curated by celebrated surf photographer Ted Grambeau, International Masters of Surf is a handpicked roll call of the world’s foremost lens folk each contributing a single image that exemplifies their contribution to the history of surf photography.  Featuring a lineup of surf photography luminaries, the exhibition will  run for the duration of the festival and feature the collective talents of Jeff Divine, Christa Funk, Russell Ord, Chris Van Lennep, Todd Glaser, John Witzig, Corey Wilson, Sean Davey, Tom Servais and many others. The showcase will include an auction, with exhibited works going under the hammer to benefit each photographer’s chosen beneficiary.  Exhibition free, opening event ticketed.

1-12 May | Flotsam Canisters

Photography exclusively shot on film will take centre stage in a group exhibition with a twist – images on display will be taken home piece by piece by attendees via lottery. Location: Outer Bound, Burleigh.  Exhibition free, opening event ticketed.

1-12 May | Flotsam Road Trip

A collision of photo and film celebrating the Aussie surf road trip through the ages, including Trent Mitchells’ Australian Lustre series. Location: Iron & Resin, Currumbin. Exhibition free, opening event ticketed.

1-12 May | Flotsam Now + Then

A site takeover of the Pink Hotel’s iconic fence line with a photographic journey through time via images from local coastline evolution unearthed through community archival projects. In the lead up to the festival, Flotsam will host several photo archiving workshops, as well as work with local photographers to showcase coastal landmarks past and present shown across the eras. Back stories on featured images accessible by QR. Location: The Pink Hotel, Coolangatta.  Free exhibition.

26 April – 20 May | Australian Surf Photo of the Year Finalist Exhibition

The Top 12 selected images from Surfing Australia’s Surf Photo of the Year awards presented by Tracks Magazine will appear at Flotsam Festival. Each image, framed and printed on OnStone stone, was selected on the basis of being deemed successful in ‘capturing the essence of Australian Surfing’. Finalists include Matt Dunbar, Bill Morris, Josh Bystrom and others. Location: Kirra Hill Community and Cultural Centre. Free exhibition.

1-12 May | Flotsam Ripples

Updated daily, Ripples is a community photo project exploring ‘Blue Mind’ art therapy images that are captured, distributed and then projected on screens in locations across the city to reach those unable to make the trek to water themselves. This inclusive, all-ability project will launch during the festival with a goal to become an ongoing social initiative. Various locations. Free exhibition.

Plus Solo Exhibitions:

1-12 May – Shelli Bankier – Body of Ocean. The Body Method, Tugun.

1-12 May – Ella Tubman – Feel Something. 4Pines, Coolangatta.

1-12 May – Ozzie Wright – Enter the Gateway to the 69th Dimension. Love Street, Kirra.

1- 12 May – Jacqueline Scott – Mermaids. Wade’s World Photographics, Coolangatta.

Single-Day Highlights

1 May | Flotsam Launch

Kicking off the Flotsam pixel party with mini guided photo tours, feature films, live music  and giveaways. Location: Eddie’s Grub House and Pink Hotel fenceline. Coolangatta. From 6pm. Free event.

2 May | Flotsam Canisters Opening Party

Analogue photography by Ming Nomchong, Nat McComas, Trent Mitchell, Luke Henery and more will take centre stage in a group exhibition with a twist – images on display will be taken home piece by piece by attendees via lottery. Attendees each purchase a film canister in lieu of entry ticket. Each canister is numbered inside, correlating with a print by featured photographers, and/or a reloaded camera to start their own film journey armed + inspired. Tunes, food and drinks, door prizes, surprises. Location: Outer Bound, Burleigh Heads. Doors 5.30pm. Ticketed.

3 May | Flotsam International Masters Of Surf Launch

Arguably the largest exhibition of leading surf photographers ever assembled, Flotsam International Masters of Surf exhibition curated by legendary lensman Ted Grambeau will feature a roll call of over thirty of the biggest and brightest luminaries of surf photography. Opening with a cocktail launch at the new Kirra Beach House, the exhibition will feature a single image chosen by each designated Master, with select items from the collection going under the hammer to benefit each photographer’s chosen beneficiary. Tickets include roaming deluxe canapes, live music, special guest panelists, door giveaways and more overlooking iconic Kirra Point. Location: Kirra Beach House, Coolangatta. Doors 1pm.  Ticketed.

3 May | Flotsam International Surf Film Session

Taylor Steele joins the chat room for a 10 year anniversary recap of Mick Fanning opus Missing. Plus this year’s best shorts and clips from across the globe. Location: Kirra Beach House, Coolangatta. Doors 5.15pm. Ticketed.

3 May | Ozzie Wright’s Enter The 69th Dimension Exhibition + Film Night

Projections from another dimension, art and more.

Location: Love St Cafe, Kirra. Doors 6pm. Free event.

4 May | Flotsam Next Wave Youth Showcase

Presenting the work of up-and-coming filmmakers and photographers on the big screen, paired with live scores by young musicians from leading programs, including Youth Music Venture and PBC High Arts Excellence. Surfrider cleanup, found art workshops, and more. Location: Palm Beach Parklands. 2pm- 7.30pm. Free event.

5 May | Flotsam (Surf) Girls On Film

Shining a spotlight on women from either side of the lens, this female-led panel and curated selection of international shorts, photo projections, and film celebrates women in surf. Featuring surfer and activist Patcha Light, photographer Cindy Grzesiak, filmmaker Clementine Bourke and many others. Location: Tugun Community Hall. Doors 5pm. Ticketed event.

5 May | Partner Event: Occumentary 25th Anniversary Screening

Jack McCoy’s insightful film about Australian surf star Mark ‘Occy’ Occhilupo celebrates 25 years since release. The Occumentary charts Occy’s career, from his dizzying rise to the top of the ASP ratings at the young age of 17, through to his hiatus from competitive surfing in the late ’80s, and his historic comeback in 1999. Location: HOTA. Doors 5pm. Ticketed event.

6 May |  Archiving Workshop and Now + Then Slideshow

Afternoon tea served with a side helping of photo archiving and a historic community slideshow to build on the archival project, Now + Then. Location: Southern Gold Coast 60’s and Better Hub, Palm Beach. 2.30pm. Free event.

7 May | The George Greenough Movie Experience


A fundraiser for the Gold Coast World Surfing Reserve, The George Greenough Echoes 6 Pack Movie Experience will feature six of revered surf filmmaker George Greenough’s short films, including Echoes re-scanned and remastered into stunning 4K to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its release.

Location: Southern Cross University Campus. Doors 6.30pm. Ticketed event.


8 May | Flotsam x Climate Community Night

Join award winning ocean photographer Craig Parry and filmmaker Andrew Kidman as we exploring how art can intersect ocean-activism through mediums like photography, and how to approach activism through film. Includes screening of Earth Ball and Road To Patagonia. Mo’s Desert Clubhouse, Burleigh. Doors 6pm. Free, tickets essential.


9 May | Flotsam Road Trip

Filmmaker and musician Andrew Kidman accompanied by his band The Windy Hills playing live soundtrack to road trip clips, including a screening of seminal film Litmus + other highway fare. Location: Iron and Resin. Doors 5pm. Ticketed.


10 May |  Feel Something, Ella Tubman – Exhibition Closer  

Location: 4Pines, Coolangatta. 5.30pm. Free event.


10 May | Partner Event: Tracks Party featured Goons of Doom

Location: Coolangatta Hotel. Doors 7pm. Ticketed.


11 May | Flotsam Media Makers Forum

A maker’s showcase and forum with rotating panels of the leading creatives from the magazine, podcast, film, book and TV realms. Guests from youth, travel + surf media platforms will discuss media evolution across topics including social media, communicating environmental issues, freelancing in the gig economy, and the future of print. Location: Kirra Hill Cultural and Community Centre. 2pm-5pm. Free event.


11 May | Craig Parry’s Underwater Photo Techniques Workshop

Award-winning ocean cinematographer Craig Parry shares tips and tricks to capture what’s up with what goes on down below. Location: Kirra Hill Cultural and Community Centre. 10.30am. Ticketed event.


11 May | Jacqueline Scott: Mermaids Exhibition Closer

Location: Wade’s World Photographics, Coolangatta. Doors 5pm. Free event.


11 May | Flotsam Homegrown

Supporting emerging film-makers, showcasing local talent, and telling authentic stories, Flotsam Homegrown is everything we love about the Gold Coast’s iconic surf exploding on the big screen. Starring the top ten surf clip comp finalist films, photography exhibitions, and local feature films. Winners will also be announced from photo comp collaborations with Surfrider and RBR. Food trucks, art stalls, and live music feat/ Love Banana.

Location: Kirra Hill Cultural and Community Centre. Doors 5pm. Ticketed Event.


12 May | Flotsam Foamo x Burleigh Boardmakers

As one festival door closes, a board making precinct opens. Live surfboard shaping displays, music, film, and photo slideshow w/ surf pioneer Peter Drouyn as he shares stories behind iconic images. Location: Burleigh Boardmakers. Doors 3pm. Free event.



Flotsam Festival is a multi-site film and photography celebration inspired by surf culture. The third annual Flotsam Festival will run from Wednesday 1st May to Sunday 12th May, 2024. Flotsam Festival is presented by Flotsam Arts Inc., a not-for-profit association formed to create pivotal events that showcase the Gold Coast’s iconic surf culture through photo and film, and to create opportunities for photographic artists to extend their practice through mentorships, workshops and exhibition opportunities.

Flotsam Festival is supported by Experience Gold Coast and the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.



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