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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Mark Richards

1976
John Witzig

type C photograph on paper, edition 13/20 (mount: 81.5 cm x 101.8 cm, image: 48.8 cm x 73.5 cm)

Mark Richards (b. 1957), surfer and surfboard shaper, began his competitive career in 1973, when he came second in the Australian Titles Open division at the age of sixteen. He won the Smirnoff World Pro Am, an early professional competition, in 1975. After the International Professional Surfers’ Tour began in 1976, Richards competed in Japan, Hawaii and Australia while refining his boardmaking techniques. He designed the boards on which he won World Championships in 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1982. Richards held the record for most surfing World Championships until 1997, when he was overtaken by American Kelly Slater (although Australian surfer Layne Beachley holds seven women’s world titles). After 1982 Richards retired from full-time competition to his native Newcastle, where he owns a retail surfshop and manufacturing business. Richards was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985, and was the very first surf champion to receive a stone on California’s Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame in 1994.

John Witzig (b. 1944) was an early enthusiast of photographing surfers from the water. Using a 35-mm Nikonos, the only waterproof camera on the market at the time, he was able to convey the intense action that resulted from the shorter boards developed by Australians in the mid-1960s. Witzig took this photograph holding the camera out in his right hand, ‘hopefully pointing it in the right direction’, and found the result ‘wonderfully out of balance’. A recent review noted: ‘Witzig’s photos would have been impossible if not for his profound familiarity with, and reverence for, the coastal waters of Australia. The principle of full engagement with the environment is reflected in his images, which never document action for the sake of action.’ Forty of Witzig’s photographs featured in the National Portrait Gallery exhibition Arcadia Sound of the Sea in 2014.

Purchased 2007
© John Witzig

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

John Witzig (age 32 in 1976)

Mark Richards (age 19 in 1976)

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Mark Richards

No choice, you’re going surfing, son

Portrait story

Australian surfing legend Mark Richards describes his professional surfing and surfboard shaping careers.

Mark Richards
Mark Richards
Mark Richards
Mark Richards

Off the wall

Magazine article by John Witzig, 2008
Photographer and surf mag editor John Witzig tells the stories behind his iconic surf images.
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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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