Tuesday, 1 September 2015


The Surf Garden collection created by Maryla Johns is inspired by the breathtaking
beaches situated in her own backyard, the Surf Coast of Victoria

Tell us a bit about your artwork?
My latest collection of artworks ‘Surf Garden’ is all reflective of my time spent walking beaches and taking in the amazing textures and patterns found in the washed up pieces of seaweed. With a camera in hand and my adored pooch on a leash I simply just started walking the beaches in and around the Surf Coast of Victoria taking photographs.
With a catalogue of images both in my hand and in my head I just started using different techniques to replicate the intricate forms and layers you see in the seaweed. 
I mainly use acrylic paints, mixed mediums, and lots of water in a drizzled format which is repeated over and over. I do also use some digital work in my prints. The collection ‘Surf Garden’ which I exhibited at Boom Gallery in July last year was of original works using ink, limited edition prints (15 of each only), and photo art pieces. Prints and photos are still available.
My art appeals to those people who want to have that connection with nature, the beach, the ocean - and bring that into the home. Likewise, my textile designs are all about creating patterns that communicate with clarity, that say “this is a home that has a love and respect for nature and living by the sea”.
Can you tell us about yourself and your background?
My background has may layers like my paintings! I grew up nowhere near a beach but three hours north on a farm outside the Country Victorian town of Horsham. From there I’ve also lived in Ballarat, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Sydney and Geelong. Living in Los Angeles for three years was a complete diversion from my creative pursuits but was more about business and the marketing of Australian health food company Musashi in the USA market.
My rural roots run very deep and I love living on the edge of some of the world’s most iconic beaches like ‘Bells’ and the gorgeous Great Ocean Road. It has so much to offer in terms of the lifestyle you can live.
It’s like being on an extended beach holiday every day to me. I sometimes wonder how I ended up here but I am so grateful. I just love it when my retail outlet in Lorne calls for an order just so I can use it as an excuse to drive there along the Great Ocean Road (most think I’m crazy for offering!)
I’ve worked in media, marketing, design and creative fields most of my ‘professional’ career. But studying interior design whilst I was in Sydney at ISCD was a new beginning. I know it’s cliche to say but it was a brilliant time to learn and make life-long friends with the same crazy passions as yourself.

What sparked you to begin Maryla Surf Lifestyle?
When I moved from Sydney back to my home in Geelong I was looking to continue creative outlets so I decided to do a screenprinting course at the Tafe. Once I started combining my art and textiles the rest just fell into place.
It’s not easy starting out on your own or just purely working on your own when you’re used to working in a team. But it does get easier when you find great collaborators to chat over some ideas with. I have a design idea a day but the actual practicality of producing anything with a fully supported campaign is where it becomes a little tricky for just one person!
But I do hold on tight of the vision of where I’m going which I think is important.
Naturally I still also do interior design projects but I do have to balance that out with deliveries to Lorne! Last year I was engaged to redo a townhouse in Torquay which was a dream project because the owners wanted to give it a relaxed and organic makeover which suited my style.

Who are some of your favourite artists and why?
I do love all art, but my favourite artist is Martine Emdur. I just hold my breath when I look at her work.
They are everything I think a painting should be - calming, tranquil and beautiful. She has created such beautiful and emotive work. It’s iconic.
I also love the work of Leila Jeffereys. Her photographs of our feathered friends capture such a depth of character and personality that I love and respect our wildlife so much more because of them.

What is your most favourite artworks that you have completed?
I’m working on some new work which is really exciting, and to chose just one is hard. But if I have to I’d say it’s my ‘Floating Under the Surf’ artwork (pictured left). To create art that evokes a ‘feeling’ is not easy, but I could look at this work all day and feel a sense of calm. I think the colours palette works well in many different spaces. But as it is with many artists, mine is yet to be hung!

What has been your biggest highlight?
It’s just nice to know that people I don’t know have my work hanging in their home or sitting on their bed/couch/table. It would be the same for most artists in that it’s just a lovely feeling that something that you created with such fun and with your own hands is bringing a bit of ‘happy’ to a home. So it’s not really a highlight like winning an award (which I have) but it is something very rewarding in a far
more enriching way.

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