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Newcastle’s skateboarding subculture on show

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Newcastle’s skateboarding subculture is the focus of a new exhibition, Shralp, which opens its doors to the public this week.

Curated by local academic James Turvey, the unique free display at the Newcastle Museum – from Friday 12 August to Sunday 30 October – will invoke memories for all those who’ve grinded on one of the city’s ledges, or performed moves in a challenging bowl, in days gone by.

Named after the act of “shredding and ripping simultaneously while on a skateboard, surfboard or snowboard”, the aptly-titled exhibit presents an exploration of the scene from 1985 to today. 

Shralp offers photos, magazines and skateboard decks and ephemera from local identities including the pro-model Bonzer board of John Bogaerts, who became the first Novocastrian to turn pro.

“Skateboarding is more than just a form of transport, it was a subculture with a rich and diverse history in Newcastle,” Mr Turvey said.

“It has its own world, one that seeks to find new terrain, new tricks and new talent.

“The average bench or steps become a landmark of who’s done what and when.

“For more than 35 years, Novocastrian skateboarders have been archiving their own history.

“And, the city’s stairs, skateparks, benches and backyards have featured in print all over the world.”

Newcastle councillor Carol Duncan said Shralp was another fantastic example of Newcastle Museum interpreting and preserving the region’s fascinating history.

“The exhibition highlights the significant role the city has played in Australian skateboarding folklore and celebrates local skaters who have gone on to national and international success including Rowan Davis and Russell Grundy,” she stated.

Newcastle Museum director Julie Baird said by collaborating with the community to tell their stories, the free exhibit offered a unique insight into this urban subculture. 

“Skateboarding culture has flourished in Newcastle for more than three decades and when Museum Park opened in 2020, skaters flocked to the space to skate and socialise,” she explained.

“Finding this inclusive subculture on our doorstep inspired Newcastle Museum to work together with the community to produce a new exhibition. 

“Curated by James [Turvey], Shralp uses skateboarding print media as a lens to view the spots, people, and art of the Newcastle skate scene and how it has exposed Newcastle to the world. 

“It also explores the role this community plays in documenting the changing nature of Newcastle’s urban environments as our city evolves over the decades.”

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