Some people call him the rainbow lorikeet because he flies so high over the water. When Otis Hope Carey is surfing, when he is in the ocean, he is home. Coming down a wave, down those blue-green walls, he seems to dance. An important spiritual symbol of the Gumbaynggirr people, the ocean – called “gaagal” in that language – and the country around it is where Carey came from and where he will go.
His parents first brought him to the beach, at Coffs Harbour, when he was a week old. The pro surfer, painter and father, now 32, has never really left it.
Carey is airborne too in his paintings, still flying across the water, taking the topographical view of the currents and tides and ripples. The work vibrates with movement, the paintings swell like the sea, like a breathing life force.
Out on the pro-surfing circuit, his quirky sense of style and his acrobatic board riding has attracted major sponsors, such as Billabong – for whom…