PJ was brought up in the Scottish central belt. Growing up he loved to escape town and climb the hills of the mainland. Every holiday his family had was spent with his maternal grandparents on Lewis. Here he and his siblings would roam the shores of Point swimming, fishing and scrambling over the cliffs.
After leaving school PJ, worked for the Met Office in Shetland allowing him to pursue his passion for the outdoors. In 1990 he was posted back to his ancestral homeland of Lewis. Here he started rock and ice climbing, opening new routes on the Lewis sea cliffs, exploring the inland crags and mountains with winter climbing in the Harris hills. On the mainland he tackled bigger routes in Glencoe, Cairngorms and the mountains around Ullapool.
On one occasion PJ and his brother David were having a heated discussion about the best route to take half way up a high mountain crag. As they tried to work out their route and prove a point to each other, they dropped the guide book and watched if fall away. Luckily, they later found the book snagged on the branches of a lonely rowan tree growing out of the rock face at the base of the cliff. Rowans are common in the Highlands and Islands and thrive in high altitude and extreme environments. It seemed to me that this hardy tree symbolised PJ’s character and is bizarrely also in his family coat of arms. To reflect this, I painted a steep grey cliff on the left of the painting with branches and rowan berries underneath.
After injuring his ankle in a fall in 1995, a friend recommended bodyboarding as a way to strengthen his ankle ligaments. Initially he wasn’t much impressed with surfing but got hooked when he ventured into head high, 25 knot on-shore wind waves at ‘Bus Stop' and started to understand the pure joy/terror of big ocean waves.
PJ, is often at the beach but when he isn’t there it is likely you’ll find him in his kayak, climbing a hill or snorkelling for scallops. The low-pressure map which covers PJ’s painting is a symbol of his career but also of his life-long passion for the elements which much of his life revolves around.
PJ is a fount of meteorological knowledge. He loves nothing more than reading the weather systems to see what swells will be arriving and where. The isobars on the painting depict a low-pressure system off the west coast of Norway driving swells from the north into Broadbay. It’s here on big days you’ll find PJ in his element. A body boarder tackling solid, heavy, steep waves on his favorite reef break at Outer Reef.