AROUND THE WORLD IN SKATEY WAYS: PHOTOGRAPHER CROSSES THE GLOBE TO CAPTURE THE WHEEL DEAL: BY Julie-Anne Barnes
A teenage skateboarder who travelled across the world to have his picture taken is now starring in a global photography collection. Fin Allan is the only Scot to feature in a series of stunning images taken by Nikki Toole, who went around the globe on her mission to photograph skateboarders. Fin, 17, was pictured after his mother Katy Morton got in touch with Nikki, a Scots photographer now living in Australia. And it took a 10,000-mile trip to Melbourne by Katy and Fin before Nikki was able to capture his perfect pose. Fin said: "I was 14 and my aunt was living in Australia. My mum and I were going to visit. She had already made contact with Nikki, who had posted on the social media site of a skateboarding shop in Edinburgh." Nikki, whose moody black and white portraits have seen her shortlisted for the National Portrait Prize five times, put a call out for skaters for a major international project which began in 2009.
She travelled the world to photograph skateboarders and chose from over 300 for a recently published book. When she came to Britain, Fin and his mum were unable meet up. But they all finally arranged time together in Melbourne in 2012. Nikki said: "The one shoot I had intended to do in Scotland should have been in Falkirk. But I had to rearrange my flights so I never made it that day. "It was a real shame. But Fin's mum wrote to me and told me they were coming to Australia. Katy and I had already made contact and stayed in touch. "She asked me how I would feel about photographing Fin. So they came to my house in Melbourne and he ended up in the book." Social sciences student Fin said: "I really like the picture. Nikki is also a skateboarder and she told me to try to get into the mindset of when I'm skating. I think it worked. "It's a cool idea and a really nice concept. I had a look at Nikki's other portraits. The expressions are not a normal pose - they're really interesting. "The trip to Australia was the best experience I've had and I never thought I'd end up in a book. It's quite a cool little bonus." Nikki grew up in Kincardine and studied printmaking in Edinburgh before moving to London to complete a Master's degree. She met her partner Andy there and they decided to move to Australia.
Nikki said: "I'm a skateboarder and I have seen the trend come and go. I loved it when I was in school and got back into it again in my late 20s. "It was great to be able to combine the two things I love. Andy and I have been in Australia for 11 years and things took off for me work-wise while I was here. "I had an exhibition in 2007 and I was approached and told I should enter the National Portrait Prize. "I've been a finalist five times and last year, I was asked to judge it. When I was asked to exhibit a solo show, I couldn't believe it." Nikki's project saw her capture men, women and children who all had one thing in common - their love of skateboarding.
The portraits are designed to evoke the mental space experienced by the individuals. She said: "I didn't want people to look at the picture and say, 'That's Rome' or 'That's Venice'. I wanted the people to look at the skaters. I wanted the backdrops to be similar. "I told the skaters to imagine themselves on their skateboard and I would shoot five images. "Sometimes there were queues of people. They would phone their friends and people they knew abroad. I got messages from Russia and Chile." Katy said: "It is a lovely picture and Fin looks great. I'm so glad we were able to meet Nikki. "She did a Kickstarter appeal to get all the images into a fine art book so we all got a copy. "I've known Nikki for five years and it's been great to watch her success." Nikki added: "I miss a lot of things about Scotland but we watch Outlander to remind us of home." I never thought I'd end up with a book. It's quite cool