A compelling trait within skateboarding culture is the promotion of creative activity. Recently, while compiling a publication of his photographs of Australian skateboarding in the 90s, Mike O’Meally commented: “Skateboarding is not structured. So immediately it's going to attract a type of person that thinks out of leftfield. A lot of good problem solvers are creative people and skateboarding is often about figuring stuff out physically.” This mentality creates the space for artful documentation of a form regularly compared to dance.
O’Meally has been photographing skateboarding for 20 years. He’s been a skateboarder himself, an editor of skateboarding magazines, a freelance photographer and staff photographer for publications and brands. Through this (self-imposed) duty, he’s delivered an unsurpassed abundance of imagery to skateboarding culture across the world.
Apart from a few corporate giants who cash-in then checkout (when skateboarding again become trendy and subsequently untrendy, as the cycle goes), it’s an almost entirely autonomous community – one that is built by skateboarders for skateboarders. A very supportive scene creates a healthy breeding ground for life-long participants like O’Meally, and many riders often later retire to positions elsewhere in the industry.
A regular exhibitor at China Heights, O’Meally will display a selection of 20 significant photographs from the last 20 years of his practice, as well as a large- scale collage likely to include several hundred images applied directly to the gallery wall.
Mike O’Meally 20 Years of Skate Photography, shows at China Heights Gallery from February 21 to February 24.