Words by Clare James
A coming together of minds and materials; a north coast collaboration sees a new workshop and retail space come to town.
Newquay is the beating heart of Cornwall’s north Coast; a surfer’s paradise and a holiday dream. It’s ever-increasing popularity as a tourist destination has led to the rapid growth in the number of small businesses, inspiring entrepreneurs, and creatives who are drawn to the town. Two such wood-related business, Mojo Framing and Dick Pearce & Friends have come together to share their creative passion in a bespoke workshop and retail space in the town. The Yard is an exciting new venture, encompassing a design-led ethos of hand craftsmanship and sustainable materials.
Two surfers, Moritz Bremekamp and Jamie Johnstone, studied together at Plymouth University both with an avid interest in wood work. The desire to build quality sustainable products and work for themselves led them to invest in an entire framing set-up. The equipment was brought from a retiring framer who took them under his wing and taught them the skills that they use today. Locating their business in the vibrant coastal town of Newquay was an obvious choice; the combination of a thriving town, coupled with an on-the-doorstep surf break was too good an opportunity to miss. Since its inception, Mojo Framing has grown rapidly and in March 2020, as the business expanded, the pair embarked on renovating an old garage, turning it into a beautiful new workshop.
Specialising in making custom frames for artists, photographers, galleries and individuals, Mojo boasts a large clientele of Cornish artists and photographers including Nina Brooke, Ben Allen, Olly Howe and George Stephens. Their work also frames pieces in Newquay’s North Coast Asylum, The Drang Gallery in Padstow, alongside many individual commissions across the UK. Moritz explains: “Framing is an artwork in itself, finding the combination of frame and mount that will complement and not detract from the artwork is the key.”
Recent investment in a high-end photographic and art printer enables Moritz and Jamie to provide a full creative service. They are able to print large format work on an array of art and photographic paper, following which they custom-frame the work to suit the customer’s requirement. The printing studio is located above the framing workshop alongside The Yard shop and gallery, with plans to exhibit a variety of artists and photographers work in the space throughout the year.
It might seem incongruous that a framing company would be found next to a bellyboard shop, but it’s Jamie’s love of wood and surfing that has inspired the collaboration. If you’re into bellyboarding you’ll have heard of Dick Pearce. It was actually Charles Pearce who began making wooden boards at his tannery in the small town of South Molton, in Devon. His boards soon took off, and son Dick took over the business creating boards in the same fashion for 50 years.
In 2010 Dick sadly died and the business was brought by Jamie and his partner. At the time, the bellyboard had dropped off in popularity, replaced by the cheap, foam, imported body boards we have all come to hate. Now named Dick Pearce & Friends, Jamie and his team have made it their mission to bring the bellyboard back to popularity once again – it’s a super-fun and sustainable alternative to polystyrene bodyboards and, as each board is handmade using the original techniques passed down through the Pearce family over the years, it will last you a lifetime. “I’ve got very happy memories of learning to surf on my grandparents’ bellyboards from the sixties. The boards are still in the shed to this day, with the original (faded) logos on them! Bellyboarding was where my love for the ocean began. We want to bring this amazingly simple, exhilarating sport back into popularity,” says Jamie
Demand has grown steadily over the last few years with people wanting a more sustainable solution to having fun in the surf, and now Dick Pearce & Friends is producing hundreds of bellyboards each month, so reducing the amount of plastic in the environment and broken, unwanted boards left on our beautiful beaches.
If you are in Newquay take a moment to pop into the brand new Dick Pearce & Friends shop at The Yard and if you haven’t yet tried bellyboarding you should; it’s simple and fun and never fails to bring a smile to everyone’s face regardless of ocean conditions, age or ability. They even have a bunch of boards you can borrow for free if you want to try before you buy.