Born in Scotland, Stevie emigrated to Australia with his family in 1980 when he was 10. His father had worked there before and felt Stevie and his two brothers would benefit from life down under.
They moved to Newcastle on the New South Wales coast. The area had a thriving surf culture and with their new home near the beach, Stevie took to surfing like a duck to water. His first board was sky blue with red checks along the rails which I’ve reflected in the top left of the painting.
Stevie was so hooked on surfing that he’d take a bus to their favourite beach before going to school - even on one occasion being warned out of the water because of hammerhead sharks. He earned pocket money working for his dad so he could spend time at the local Nine Mile Beach Surfboard Club (see the number nine on the bottom right of the painting) where they had surf competitions and social events.
He has endless stories of his time in Oz. One that stuck in my mind and is reflected in elements of the painting sum up his mischievous sense of humour and adventure. On a trip with mates to an isolated beach called ‘Booti Booti’ one of them fell asleep beside the campfire. For ‘a laugh’ they put a can of beans on the fire to see if it would pop and wake the slumbering surfer. When it did rupture it was less of a pop and more of an explosion. The air was filled with beans, screams of shock and laughter but also burning embers which set a tree on fire and nearly destroyed their cars and vans.
Stevie moved back to Scotland with his family in 1986 bringing with him all he’d learned from the surf culture of Oz. By the early 1990s he was one of the top surfers in the country, becoming Scottish surf champion by 1989. Unfortunately, all the finalists failed the drugs test after too many doobies the night before.
Working for his father at Riskend Quarry (the family owned aggregate business in the central belt) became increasingly frustrating for Stevie. He’d been to Lewis before, loved the waves and the people so in 2001 after an argument with his dad he jumped on his motorbike (see the tire tracks on the left of the painting) and drove to Lewis where he says he’s ‘never looked back’.
Stevie is renowned for his ability to turn his hand to anything so is always in demand. He’s has been able to fit his work around his main passion of surfing especially on his favourite break at Bragar which he gazes to in his painting.