Like his old friend Michael Peterson, Marty Tullemans is "perched above us in the after-life transit lounge."
The sands of time stop for no man.
And Marty Tullemans, a photographer who was as much a part of surf history as the iconic photographs he took but who suffered from bi-polar disorder and, later, dementia, has died of kidney failure.
Marty was man of indeterminate age whose flamboyant behaviour, driven by his mental illness, helped created a sort of cosmic legend.
Minutes after I’d sold a painstakingly restored vintage station wagon to him, I looked out the window of my office to see the forty-year-old Valiant mowing through the company’s flower beds, the compact Dutchman’s grinning face only just visible above the oversized steering wheel.
For the past year Marty had been living at the Blue Care Aged Care Facility in Kirra where he was treated with dialysis for kidneys ruined by years of medication used to treat his bi-polar disorder.
Stories about Marty have flowed.
From Nick Carroll,
“I’ll never forget Marty Tullemans rolling up to our family front door in Nullaburra Rd Newport back in 1976. Tom and I were innocent grommets and the Cosmic Pygmy was one of our early encounters with the sort of incredible humans who dwelled in the realm we were doomed to inhabit for the rest of our lives. We went out front to greet him, and Tullemans bowed, then began a kind of ritualistic movement, a dance if you will, swinging his hips around like an Indian Yogi. “Do this!” he urged us. “You’ll open up the chakras!” The smell of patchouli arose and wafted across the lawn. Our 80 year old grandmother, who’d lived through two world wars and a Depression and was now engaged in raising three grandkids on a foreign shore, was entranced by Marty. “What an interesting person!” she said to me later. She was totally right. Vale, you wacky witty lens person you.”
From Tim Baker,
“Vale the one and only Marty Tullemans who died peacefully this morning. He was such a unique character who documented Oz surfing through the 70s 80s and 90s like few others. He took the two best surf shots I ever had of myself, knowing full well no one was going to pay anything for shots of an intermediate level surf mag editor, got prints made and gave them to me out of pure kindness. Every interaction with Marty was memorable for his colourful cosmic raves but there was always some profound truth underpinning them. It can’t have been easy being Marty with his wild swings and surreal world view. You’ll be missed Marty and made surfing more colourful and stoked out a ton of surfers.”
Fittingly, for he was a man of the celestial and more than a little extra-terrestrial, Marty died during last night’s penumbral lunar eclipse.
At a wake for his old friend Michael Peterson in 2012, Marty said,
“I will firstly share with you a short story on the directness of Michael Peterson. We were playing chess at his shaping factory in 1975 (where he rented me a room for black and white photography work.) Anyway MP is just about to call me checkmate and just before he does he comes out with this classic ‘China plate;… just like surfing big Kirra Point barrels in life: keep your balls fair and square to the wall head down arse up aiming for da hole’. Michael just wants you all to know that just like a surfer sitting in the line up; waiting for the next ticket to ride, he is currently perched above us in the after-life transit lounge. This time MICHAEL assures me he is going to do the journey a lot smarter and not harder. He is going to be a lot more picky on the vessel or body he resumes the journey with. Safe travels Mick and stay on the search for the real deal in life.”
Safe travels, ol pal.