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Man on Surf Mat

Date: 1975
Dimensions:
Sheet: 511 x 605 mm
Image: 377 x 554 mm
Mount / Matt size: 630 x 866 mm
Display dimensions (Frame): 660 x 895 x 45 mm
Medium: Silver gelatin print, paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Photographs
Object Name: Photograph
Object No: 00027107
Place Manufactured:Manly

User Terms

    Description
    Street photography, made famous by French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, was a popular genre for Australian photographers such as Roger Scott, who focused on sporting events, demonstrations and the beach. Scott used an underwater camera to photograph people during visits to New South Wales beaches between 1974 and 1981. His pictures capture the exuberance and energy of swimmers who were unaware he was photographing them.

    This black and white silver gelatin print, titled 'Man on Surf Mat', was taken at Queenscliff in 1975. The photograph was a surprise for both the photographer and his subject. Scott was just over a meter away when he took the photograph and the man only narrowly avoided knocking him down.
    SignificanceRoger Scott photographed Australians at rest and play, focusing on the diversity of those who were drawn to the beach. While capturing the exhilaration of the surf and the popular beach lifestyle of 1970s and 1980s Australia, Scott's photographs document an important part of the nation's society and culture.
    HistoryRoger Scott's career in photojournalism began with work at Leicagraph Pty Ltd at the age of 16. It was here that he perfected his printing abilities. He also began taking his own photographs around this time, and completed a photographic course at Sydney Technical College, now part of UTS. His father's commitment to the anti-war movement was a major influence on Scott, and this led to a powerful series on the anti-Vietnam war demonstrations. These encapsulated the highly-charged emotions of the times, and have become amongst the most recognised images of the period.

    Scott's interest in beach photography began in the 1970s while bodysurfing in Manly. He spent hours in the water watching fellow swimmers floating around waiting for waves. At the time Scott was living in North Sydney, frequenting Manly Harboard, Queenscliff and Palm Beach on the Northern Beaches. He later moved to Double Bay, which led to a focus on Eastern Suburbs beaches.

    The photographs evoke the exuberance and energy of swimmers on the Australian beaches in the 1970s and 1980s. They convey the spontaneity and splash of the surf, and the surge of adrenalin surfers experience when catching a wave. Scott used a Nikon 'Nikonos' underwater 35 mm camera with a wide angle lens. He believed in the full frame, and would not crop out parts of the scene. He swam around with the camera hanging from his neck, seeking out both the odd and the typical. Though he focused on people, his subjects were generally unaware of the camera and he would catch them off guard. In the chaos of the surf the photographer managed to get very close to his fellow swimmers, and Scott describes this method as 'sneaking up like a shark'.

    He was awarded a Visual Arts Board grant in the mid 1970s, which enabled him to travel to America. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s his work broadened, and recognition of his talent is evidenced in the one man exhibitions held during this period.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Man on Surf Mat

    Primary title: Man on Surf Mat

    Exhibition object title: Manly 1975 [Man on Surf Mat]

    Exhibition object title: Manly 1975 [Man on Surf Mat]

    Related People
    Photographer: Roger Scott

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