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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.

Ted at Bells Beach, 1971

by John Witzig

Witzig seems to have been in a more precarious position than ever in the water for this shot; even if Ted Spencer can slice away, the crystalline wave seems to be about to close on the photographer. For the resulting meticulously-balanced image, elemental is the word. A dark ball of energy cracking through the diffuseness of ocean and sky, the surfer asserts his athleticism and his drive for survival. Crouching, keenly watchful, his fingers tensed in chopping formation of defence or attack, Ted Spencer could be the last man on earth.

Related information

Nat Young, c. 1968 by Albert Falzon
Nat Young, c. 1968 by Albert Falzon
Nat Young, c. 1968 by Albert Falzon
Nat Young, c. 1968 by Albert Falzon

Arcadia

Sound of the sea

Previous exhibition, 2014

An exhibition of photographs by John Witzig, drawings by Nicholas Harding and film footage by Albe Falzon, expressive of the free-spirited, hot-blooded energy of Australian surfers under the cloud of conscription to Vietnam.

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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.