Nicola is a homegrown Lewis surfer. Hailing from the peninsula of Point, she was brought up in the village of Swordale which has an almost 360-degree view of the sea. From early on she developed a close but competitive bond with her elder brother Colin. There was nothing Colin did that Nicola wouldn’t try and do better. Playing games on the beach at the bottom of the croft with other kids from the village, she became notorious for having no fear. The small yellow dots that wave along the bottom of the painting refer to the shoreline on a map, creating the shape of the shore at the bottom of the croft and symbolising that formative time in her life at the beach.
The gang from the village had a den in an old derelict croft house in Aignish which they made their own and painted the floorboards in rainbow colours. This element of her outdoor and independent childhood is shown in the colourful rainbow stripes which create a simplified linear house form.
Nicola comes from a musical family. In their teens Nicola and Colin formed a White Stripes tribute band called the Red Dots. Clearly talented, the duo became part of a band called The Boy and Girl who Trapped the Sun and she provided backing vocals for Arab Strap. Despite being a great singer, guitarist and drummer Nicola didn’t enjoy the limelight and she stopped performing. Her love of music and her close relationship with Colin is symbolised by the red dots in the painting.
Colin first took Nicola surfing when she was 17. Of course, if he could do it then so could she. After leaving school, she was working as a waitress when she met Scott her husband-to-be who was also a local surfer. The couple went travelling to Australia where besides riding some classic waves, her interest in working with kids was also sparked.
They returned to Lewis and both worked in the evenings in a local restaurant called Limelights in which local surfer Ross was also the chef. Working only in the evenings allowed Scott, Nicola and Ross to surf all day. She talks of this as being an amazing time leading to a huge improvement in her surfing. When the restaurant closed Nicola decided to focus on a new career and started her teacher training.
She married Scott in 2017 and had little Eva a year later but running through Nicola’s story is her passion for surfing. The reputation for fearlessness she earned as a youngster is still with her, and the bigger the waves the better for Nicola. Her favourite wave is Inner Reef because she loves the steep drop and getting barrelled.
There is story about Nicola that I think sums her up. She turned up at Bragar beach on a huge day. A group of German surfers looked on from the shore while Nicola paddled out. Managing to battle through the surf, she caught a massive wave all the way from the point right across the bay. When she paddled back in the German tourists were so impressed that they all clapped as she came in. Nicola loved the wave but was embarrassed by the applause.