Nikki Toole: "Many skaters speak of a solitary mind space while skating; of entering into another state of consciousness. To make these portraits I asked the skaters to place themselves within this meditative space.
As a child growing up in Scotland, I was the opposite of sporty. I was never the fastest runner and dreaded sports days, but I did find a refuge in skateboarding from a young age. It fitted in perfectly with my tomboy persona and gave me a huge amount of self confidence. An unseen benefit of skating is the ability to detach and exist happily within your own headspace.. in many ways this is essential.
I now live in Melbourne, Australia where skating is a common mode of transport and in 2009 I asked the question,'do other skaters zone out while skating'. The answer was YES. I decided to photograph the skaters in my local area of Fitzroy and asked them to place themselves within this headspace. I was amazed. We talked, I waited and I shot 5 images of each skater.
Was this a worldwide state of mind or would cultural differences play a part. I decided to take the project on the road. Wherever I went skaters welcomed me and immediately understood the common idea. 'We are at one with ourselves', to quote skater Luke Brown.
While in the USA my images became blurry and out of frame. My retina had detached and my optic nerve was swollen. Back in Australia the retina was lasered back into place and I switched to digital photography saving myself any future risk of blurred imagery. The project continued and the next year I visited Italy, Germany, England and the Czech Republic. The kindness of strangers along the road made this project possible."