The familiar silhouette of champion pro surfer Nat Young in front of some of John Witzig's iconic surf photography on display at the Grafton Regional Gallery.
The familiar silhouette of champion pro surfer Nat Young in front of some of John Witzig's iconic surf photography on display at the Grafton Regional Gallery. Adam Hourigan

Surfing through history with Witzig

VISITORS to the Grafton Regional Gallery's recent opening got the opportunity to see some of the premier surfing photography of recent eras, and hang out with a legend of the sport.

World champion surfer Nat Young gave the opening address for the opening local photographer John Witzig's exhibition of surfing works.

This exhibition combines photographs from the gallery's collection and works from John Witzig's private collection.

John Witzig is a photographer and co-founder of 'Tracks' magazine. He is an iconic name in the Clarence Valley and the international surfing fraternity. The works on display in this exhibition span from his classic surf photography, across portraiture and more intimate portrayals of life.

John Witzig contributed his first piece to Surfing World in 1963 and later worked full-time for the magazine. In 1966 he produced the pivotal 'New Era' issue that, for the first time, documented the rapid changes in performance and equipment taking place in surfing and being led by the Australians.

After Nat Young's win at the 1966 World Championships in San Diego he wrote: 'We're Tops Now' for the American publication Surfer, an article later described as "splendidly inflammatory". John Witzig went on to edit Surf International for Gareth Powell, co-founded Tracks in 1970 with Albe Falzon and David Elfick, Sea Notes in 1977, and contributed occasionally to American magazines.

Gallery director, Jude McBean, said she was excited to present a solo exhibition of John Witzig's photography at the gallery, and looks forward to seeing people from across the Clarence Valley appreciate and enjoy John's photographic practice.

"John Witzig's place in world surfing culture, as well as his strong photographic practice, is hugely significant," she said.

"The gallery is privileged to hold such a notable collection of John's photography and to present an exhibition like this that really shows the strength and breadth of his work in the field."


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