When I first meet Gold Coast designer Sarah Huston, I’m struck by the fact that that she does not fit the stereotypical mould of a skatergirl, but then I’m terribly embarrassed that I even thought that.
“Well what is the mould for a typical skater?” She is quick to ask. “There are a lot of female skaters now.”
Sarah is curating an exhibition of skate photography, Yeah Girl, which takes place during Bleach* Festival at the Dust Temple. It’s an exhibition of photos taken by female photographers of female skaters and it has a truly International flavour with seven photographers from across Europe, USA and Australia involved.
“I definitely did a lot of research as to who was out there shooting photos,” Sarah explained, adding that the photographers sent their images to Australia digitally before she had them printed and framed.
Sarah herself has been skating on and off since primary school but only started honing her photography skills in 2014. The Benowa High School graduate says it was the challenge which drew her to skateboarding all those years ago.
“I guess that’s what drew me to it. And then, it was the friendship and community and lifestyle that made me stick with it,” she said.
“When I was a teenager it was mostly guys (who skated),” Sarah said. “I have one friend I went to school with, and she skated as well. I went to the skate park one day and saw her there and hadn’t realised she was a skateaboarder and we became friends and skated all the time.”
“We’re still friends. We still skate together.
“I started shooting because I’d go out street skating with friends and end up at spots that I couldn’t skate – like a big set of stairs or a big ledge. So then I’d pick up a camera instead and document others skating.”
Speaking of street skating leads me to ask about how security guards react when they see Sarah and her female friends doing tricks in public places.
“Actually it’s quite funny, you tend to get away with it a lot more,” she laughed. “I’ve had a security guard – he came up and said you had to leave – and when he saw I was a girl I negotiated ten more minutes – and he just didn’t come back.”
“And often they come up and have a conversation with you and will be like ‘wow, you don’t see many chicks on skateboards’ and then will leave and say ‘have a good night’,” she said.
“Naturally, to some extent, it’s going to be like that – there just aren’t as many women skating as men. But there are women out there doing as good as men – they are equally talented.”
“It all comes down to consumerism and what the brands see as their target market – females aren’t going to sell boards to their target market.”
Sarah takes me back to how she got into photography.
“It’s just more about documenting my friends and life with them and also trying to give them extra exposure – because nobody else takes photos of the girls.”
“When I first came up with the idea for an exhibition I wanted to do just photos shot by females of just anybody skating. But I’m also an advocate for giving those girls exposure.”
“It’s a tough one because I don’t want to be exclusive and I don’t want to exclude anyone and I don’t want to segregate women’s skateboarding, but unless we do it ourselves, nobody else is going to do it,” Sarah said.
Sarah’s exhibition has been supported by Council through Regional Arts Development Fund as well as a bunch of local businesses like 13 Digital, Darkside, Artwork Agency and Fastproof Press and will raise money for Skateistan.
“They are an organisation that uses skateboarding to empower and educate disadvantaged kids,” Sarah explained. They started in Afghanistan and they particularly had a big impact in the work they have done with girls because in Afghanistan girls aren’t allowed to ride a bike but they’re allowed to ride a skateboard.”
“So, all of a sudden girls are allowed to be included in this physical activity so they use skateboarding to involve the kids and also teach them English, arts, maths, and they do a back to school program, then they employ street kids as skate coaches and do the most amazing work.”
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Yeah Girl takes opens Friday 11 March from 6.00pm at Dust Temple, 54 Currumbin Creek Road.
PHOTO CREDIT: Lamp Photography