© Nick Gammon 2014

© Nick Gammon 2014


Wilma Johnson is an artist writer surfer living near Barriitz. She was born in London in 1960. She went to St Martins College of Art 1978=82, and has a first class degree in Fine Art . While she was there she founded the Neo Naturists performance art group with Christine and Jennifer Binnie. Grayson Perry joined the group shortly afterwards.The group appeared at a variety of venues including The Spanish Anarchists Centre and the Royal Opera House, and collaborated with artists such as Derek Jarman, Miichael Clark, Andrew Logan and Leigh Bowery .Their longest running performance was a week long live-in event at the B2 gallery in Wapping in 1982.

Her paintings in the 80s were inspired  hitch hiking to the Scottish highlands, Lapland, and Iceland. She had numerous solo shows in alternative galleries including James Birch Gallery and Monolith.

In 1987 she went on holiday to Mexico and stayed for a year, following the fiesta and painting in run down hotel rooms, drinking tequila with friends of Frida Kahlo. her stay in Mexico and subsequent visits has had a profound influence on her work.

In 1991 she moved to Ballydavid on the Dingle peninsula in Ireland, working from a studio in a farmhouse she continued to exhibit in London and locally while bringing up three children.

In 2001 she moved again to a basque fishing village near Biarritz in south west France, where she continues to paint, and has also written her memoir, Surf Mama. The book tells the story of her life as artist, single mother, and neo naturist, and focuses on her decision at the age of 44 to become a surfer, despite never having done any sport in her life. It was first published as a hardcover art book in 2011, and a revised edition was published by Summersdale in 2014. It is currently being developed for film by Powder Keg productions, UK and The Amazing Film Company, Germany.

In 2015 almost all of the paintings still in the artists collection were destroyed by fire, along with archival photos, films and hundreds of drawings, watercolours and sketchbooks.