Fifteen years ago, Patch Wilson began traveling to Ireland from his native Cornwall to catch incoming swells at the West Coast’s infamous slabs and big wave spots.
After a few trips, he fell in love with the coastline, and decided to make it his home. Since then, he’s been weathering the North Atlantic winters there, and holding out for the occasional glimpse of magic among the madness. Directed and produced by Joao Tudella, Framed documents some of those moments across the last three seasons.
What was the motivation behind Framed?
Patch Wilson: I’ve been gathering footage for the last three or four years - all my best waves from around home in the West of Ireland - and I got to the point where I felt comfortable that I had enough for a good clip. The Doolin Surf Film Festival was coming up, which is a really cool event, and I wanted to screen the film there. I also wanted to help out the filmmaker Joao, a younger guy who is super talented. So, between the two of us, because we’re both on the same wavelength, this was what we came up with.
Framed is a very apt name for this film, because you’re also a picture framer. How did you get into that?
I was always interested in woodwork. I made furniture when I was younger, and I’ve worked as a carpenter. I just love to work with wood.
I have a big interest in art and framing is almost an artform in itself. It’s beautiful to see how the frame can contrast with the painting.
I have a little workspace at home, plus a workshop ten minutes from my house. My workspace is actually in my boardroom at the back of my house, so I’ll have to move my boards outside soon to make more space for my tools.
Over the years you’ve always tipped the work/life balance scale towards surfing. Has that been a conscious decision?
I’ve always worked to surf. Surfing’s been such a big, positive part of my life and getting in the sea on a daily basis, or whenever I can, and when the waves are good, has always been so important to me.
So I’ve always juggled work to make that happen, and, in the past, that might have meant doing three to four months of solid building work, back home in Cornwall, so that I could then focus on surfing again for a while. Now I can just do a few days of picture framing at home and then go surfing when it’s good. Patagonia has also enabled me to go on trips and kept me warm with suits, so I make it work.
You’re from Cornwall, but you live in Lahinch (West Coast of Ireland). What was it like transitioning between those two surf scenes?
When I moved to Lahinch it was always a struggle trying to make things happen with work, so I’d go back and forth a bit. Then Moy Hill Farm came up and many of my friends from Cornwall moved over, so the scene grew.
It can be a hard existence here in winter, and this winter was a particularly cold and bleak one with months of bad waves, so it’s not always easy. It can feel a bit too much at times, but there are some great moments in amongst it, and there are some really interesting people living here because it’s a healthy place to be, close to the sea with a lot of positive things going on as well.
Could you tell us about Hometree?
One of the positive things happening here is Hometree, a tree-planting initiative, spearheaded by surfer Matt Smith. They’re on a mission to reforest as many areas of Ireland as possible, but with only native species of tree. The last Saturday in every month, they get people together to plant trees. Some of them are donated and some are reared in their own nursery. They invite everyone along on social media, we have a cup of tea, we do some planting and we all eat together afterward. They’re connecting like-minded people every time too, which is always a good thing.
Banner image – photo: Al MacKinnon.