The PullPosted By Hanumantra Lamar on 14th March 2017
I was born in a town that is almost entirely surrounded by water, there’s only a couple of hundred metres of land that stop it from being a moat. During the years that brought heavy rainfall we would see the town flood and devastate those whose lives got washed away. Even now each year the river claims the lives of those who venture in unprepared and unaware. I grew up knowing the dangers that this flowing water posed but still the lure to be close has never left me.
Ageing has brought to me the common complaints of aches and pains but with that also a greater understanding of who I am and what I need in life to keep an element of balance. Being close to moving water is a key component. Before we had the infrastructure to transport water through towns and cities man would have needed to be close to a source of water to survive. Well for me the necessity (albeit not life or death) still remains, I am my happiest when I can see water. I now live overlooking the same river I grew up by.
As a child I spent most holidays at my grandparents caravan on the Welsh coast, which has become my spiritual homeland. It was here that my love for the ocean was found, I was barely a couple of months old before my dad took me there for the first time and my feet felt beneath them the sea, sand and salt of this part of the earth.
By the time I was 16 I had already decided that I wanted to move away, to live by the ocean and most importantly learn how to surf. Despite having never even tried surfing my desire to learn was as deep as the ocean and I knew that the essence of life is found when you follow the feeling in your stomach. So I started saving up and by the time I turned 18 I had my ticket ready to leave for Australia.
It was the middle of winter in Sydney when I landed and stepping out through the airport doors I was greeted with a clear blue sky and a fresh breeze. Some things can only happen once in your life time and that feeling of freedom mixed with anticipation and excitement is one I’ll never know again. It wasn’t even 24 hours before I had been down to the beach and booked a block of surf lessons, I was an eager student with a lot to learn and I found out the hard way that the ocean can be a harsh teacher. The days rolled in to weeks with most of my time spent in isolation, only my surfboard and the ocean to keep me company.
Eventually I met some kindred spirits who felt as much at home in the water as out of it. They shared time, effort and in turn memories with me that shaped who I am and that I will remember for as long as I am.
The rest of my time in Australia was dedicated to surfing. I worked between building sites and bars to fund months away at a time living out of my van, travelling the coast where I would be the first in the water before the sun rise and last in the water long after it had set. It was during these moments of tranquillity between sets lying on my board feeling the ocean breath beneath me that inspired my first tattoo. It is one to represent the sun over water and it still sits on the back of my right calf, so I guess surfing was the catalyst for my journey in to tattooing.
The majority of the tattooing that has had a direct influence on the aesthetics of my work are from islands located in the Pacific. Surrounded by ocean that often provided food and protection as well as a way of life it’s hardly surprising that the great bodies of water that they drift in feature heavily in tattoos created there.
However not wanting to replicate another’s culture I allowed these tattoos to infiltrate my mind and shape the designs I draw. From here I began to explore tattooing from a time that has since been forgotten in the British Isles and as I evolved I began allowing myself to open up where everything I experienced became an influence on me and reflect in the work I produce. I look to nature to decided how a curl should form, like the crest of a wave ready to crash or how lines can connect with each other similar to how bark fits on a tree.
From these principles I learned and developed in tattooing I decided to apply them to a pursuit that has brought so much joy to me and in turn I will hand down to my daughter. I decided to adorn one of the surfboards that accompanied me and my partner in crime during those care free days down under, where our biggest concern was where we could find the best waves breaking and what we would eat for the day. Everything we owned was in the back of an old Toyota Hiace that was kept on the road by a wish and a prayer but despite this modest set up our lifestyle was made up of smiles. It was a fulfilled life that money could never buy. We all know how to make ourselves happy, we’re drawn to it. But all to often we find obstacles or excuses to put in the way.
This board is a physical representation of all the intangibles that exist in that moment when you follow what feels right. Where your heart overrides your head. When there’s no time to think, you just do. Once this happens “The Pull” never leaves, you just need to listen.
Follow that Feeling.