What do the Isle of Lewis and California have in common? A shared disregard for Donald Trump is one thing. Surfing is another.
The latter is the focus of Wave Migration, an exhibition at An Lanntair in Stornoway by painter, screen printer and surfer Laura Maynard. Through a series of large-scale portraits and mixed media works she explores the liquid lives and loves of a growing community of Hebridean surfers.
Many of her subjects have moved to the islands from the city. Some have travelled the world, surfed some of its best breaks and stayed in places often classed as paradise, yet they have chosen to stay in or move to the Isle of Lewis, attracted by the waves and way of life.
Kev was an engineer in a box-making factory in Hartlepool who beat cancer and moved north. RAF veteran Lynsey’s life changed when she saw a surf sticker in the dust of Afghanistan. Kenny is a local builder who became one of the first surfers in the Hebrides in the 1990s. For all 15 surfers that feature in the exhibition, the welcoming people, unspoiled surf breaks and the lack of commercial surf culture makes the Hebrides a home worth braving the cold for.
Laura Maynard’s intimate portraits capture each surfer’s character and the event in their life that triggered their move north. But the large mixed media diptychs are not just about the surfers and their stories, they’re also portraits of their favourite waves in motion, a celebration of the best surf spots that Lewis has to offer.