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HomeARCHIVECovid creativity captures kids in their element

Covid creativity captures kids in their element

A photographic celebration of our talented local kids doing what they love most,  using the Beaches as a backdrop, launched at the Creative Space at North Curl Curl today, 18 February.

The exhibition, entitled ‘The Next Wave’, is by photographer Ben Symons.

It represents a significant departure for local Symons who is best known for his work as an on set stills photographer for hugely popular TV programs such as The Bachelor as well as for Play School, Sydney Dance Company, Muriel’s Wedding the Musical and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

During his 15-year career, Ben has mastered the art of getting ‘that shot’ between takes and rehearsals, with minimal lighting or fuss. But when the global pandemic shut down the TV show he was working on in March 2020, Ben found himself unemployed overnight.

Ben’s photo of BMX biker Daisy, one of many on display at Creative Space.

“I’m used to travelling and being on set for long hours. Here I was suddenly spending a lot of time at home with my family,” explains the Northern Beaches father of three. “My daughters are almost entering their teen years and it got me thinking, ‘What activities can they do in the future that will keep them happy, healthy and off screens?'”

Ben with some of his children preparing for today’s opening. Photo: @thenextwave2021

Three months later, Ben received a COVID-19 Creative Grant from the Northern Beaches Council, and the wheels were set in motion for his first solo exhibition. Over 19 weeks, he photographed 14 talented local surfers, dancers, skaters, riders and athletes, aged 11 to 14, at skate parks, bike tracks, in the water and on the beach, between Mona Vale and Freshwater.

As The Next Wave evolved, Ben and his wife, studio manager Melanie Crea, realised that it was an ideal vehicle to raise funds towards youth suicide prevention – the leading cause of death nationally for Australians aged under 25. The couple connected with Avalon-based charity One Eighty, whose ethos resonated.

With fundraising in mind, they created a set of postcards to sell alongside the limited-edition prints. “The postcards have a two-fold message,” says Ben. They’re something that kids can take home and pin up to inspire them, but they’re also a nice way of sending a friend a message to say, ‘Hey, how are you? I’m thinking of you.’ It’s about keeping in touch.”

The Next Wave will be at the Creative Space, 105 Abbott Road, North Curl Curl, from Thursday 18 February–Sunday 28 February.

Opening hours: Thursday/Friday, 10am-6pm; Saturday/Sunday, 10am-4pm (closed Monday-Wednesday).

A percentage of the profits raised from all artwork sales will be donated to One Eighty.




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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

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