Reflecting Australia’s obsession with sport, the National Portrait Gallery has many diverse portraits of Australian sportspeople. Let’s take a closer look at some of the great surfing legends from our collection and their stories that have shaped our national identity.
Layne Beachley is a seven times world champion and one of the greatest of all time female surfers.
She has surfed waves over fifteen metres high and when asked how she had the courage to do this she said, ‘life is a challenge, you attract what you fear, so play fair and have fun.’
Layne’s electric blue eyes are the focus of the image.
The artist Petrina Hicks feels that Beachley’s strength is revealed through her eyes.
In 2004 Layne established the Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars foundation to help women achieve their goals.
Having experienced financial hardship herself she says ‘a little bit of finance or just the knowledge someone believes in their ambition may be all it takes for a female to achieve greatness.’
Robert ‘Nat’ Young, a four times world champion surfer still lives his life devoted to the sport he loves.
The same year that this photo was taken, Nat won the men’s final at the Australian Surfboard Championship held at Bells Beach, Victoria.
Young played an integral part in the redesigning of the longboard in the late 1960s and the longboard renaissance in the early 1980s.
He is widely regarded as a pioneer of Australia’s surfing culture.
Nat was nicknamed ‘The Animal’ due to his powerful and aggressive surfing style.
Born into a surfing family, Mark Richards had no choice but to start surfing at a young age.
Richards revolutionised high performance surfing with his reinvention of the twin fin surfboard.
The twin fin was faster, had greater manoeuvrability and gave Richards an advantage in competitive surfing.
Here Richards talks about his career as a pro surfer and surfboard shaper.
‘Surfing gave me some of the greatest years of my life – nothing better than being in a sport that you like.’
This exhibit was written by:
- Annette Twyman, Learning Facilitator, National Portrait Gallery
- Sally Adair, Learning Facilitator, National Portrait Gallery
- Sally Dawson, Learning Facilitator, National Portrait Gallery
- Kirstin Gunether, Learning Facilitator, National Portrait Gallery
- Emily Casey, Program Coordinator, National Portrait Gallery
- Alana Sivell, Digital Learning Coordinator, National Portrait Gallery
- Johanna McMahon, Art History intern, Australian National University.
This exhibit was edited and produced by Alana Sivell, Digital Learning Coordinator, National Portrait Gallery.
We would like to acknowledge the generous support from all artists and organisations for letting us include these works.