Although born in Scotland, Gav’s father’s job meant the family moved quite a few times when he was growing up. No matter where they lived, Gav would never be without either a skateboard or a bike. In one place they lived he had a weekend paper round that was a 30 mile roundtrip on his bike. You can see small cut out shapes of bikes hiding under the waves and at the bottom of the painting.
Throughout his childhood, Gav and his dad were always into water sports. They sailed dinghies on the Berkshire lakes, bodysurfed on the Welsh coast and windsurfed in France. In fact, Gav rode his first wave in France on a windsurfing board.
Gav loves the sea, but he also loves engines. When was 16 he bought his first VW camper van which began his lifelong obsession with VWs. He is renowned as a petrol head and mechanical wizard. If Gav is not surfing a wave or blasting across the sea on a windsurfer, you’ll find him fixing up vans, cars or working on his latest drag racer. I reference this glorious obsession with the textured cog shapes in the top right corner of the portrait painting.
When he was 17 Gav chose to go to Swansea University to study engineering and to be close to the sea. What he didn’t expect when he chose Swansea was the intensity of the night life. Gav went headlong into the 1990s rave scene and was eventually kicked out of uni in his third year. This time in his life is symbolised by the Robocop and lasers, as Gav talks of going to a rave where a gun toting Robocop on stilts appeared to be firing lasers into the crowd of thousands of pulsing people.
It was during this crazy time that Gav and friends took the camper to France on a month-long surf trip. He started to feel part of something bigger and through the 1990s he travelled extensively around the UK and to iconic surf locations throughout the world.
It was on surf road trip from Barra to Lewis in 1999 that his life changed. He still speaks of how he enjoyed the trip, the people and the surf as much if not more than anywhere he’d traveled to around the world.
At that time Gav was working as a truck driver transporting huge screens to motor racing venues around Europe. The money was good but it was killing his surfing. So, after saving for a few years he drove his camper van north to Lewis in 2002 and never looked back.
Gav has a cruisey longboard style of surfing and has always loved long peeling waves similar to those he found in Rincon California. His favourite wave is at Tong which on a good day reminds him of his time travelling around the world before he settled in the surf community of Lewis.