About Wilma


wilma biarritz-1

Wilma Johnson is an artist and writer born in London in 1960. She studied painting at St Martin’s College of Art, where she also set up the Neo Naturist performance art group with Christine and Jennifer Binnie .

During the 80s she performed with the Neo Naturists in venues as diverse as the Spanish Anarchist Centre, Heaven and the Royal Opera House, and also exhibited paintings inpired by hitch hiking round Iceland Lappland and the Scottish highlands.

She had a change of direction in 1987 when she went to Mexico on holiday, but stayed for a year, following the fiesta and painting in rundown hotel rooms.

in 1991 she moved to Ballydavid, a fishing village on the Dingle peninsula in Ireland, where she brought up her three children and immersed herself in the role of earth mother for ten years. Then she had a revelation that she wanted to become a surfer herself. The family moved to Biarritz where she split up with her husband, swapped a painting for a surfboard and set up the Mamas Surf Club for women who felt they had spent too long watching the action from the beach, with the motto  Out of the Kitchen and Into the Surf.

Her travel memoir Surf Mama was published by Summersdale in 2014

‘If a tsunami did come in and my life flashed before my eyes, the great sporting moments would be few and far between. They might take up a split second or two in the highlights of my life, but no more. There would be studios and dripping paint, there’d be galleries, nightclubs and drinking clubs, love affairs and broken crockery. You might see me hitch-hiking round Iceland or Lapland in a long fur coat or strolling through Venice or Pompeii in a turban and platform shoes. You might see me wearing body paint or dancing salsa in a Mexican cantina. There’d be snatches of jungle and desert, pyramids and lava fields. Then there would be babies, green fields and windswept Irish beaches. But there wouldn’t be much sport. I’m about as far as one could be from a classic surf chick.’




  1. Pingback: Flashes of genius: the wild world of the naked Neo Naturists | Naija Upgrade

  2. Ellie

    Thanku so much for your book! My brother (an instructor) gave me a surf lesson once that consisted of paddling right out back to the deep , shouting “mind the rocks will ye’ and not coming back for hours and I sat crying on the beach. I couldnt even turn the board around and got mashed! It was horrific. Although aparently thats how he learnt Stuck to OW swimming since then and thought perhaps I’m too old and scared. But ur book has me inspired! I’m going to get pay for lessons with a instructor once I’ve finished my nursing degree. Oh and I better learn to do a decent push up in the mean time! 😉 cheers Mama!

    • Wilma Johnson

      Ha thanks – that story sounds so familiar… guys love to tell you how much they suffered for their surf! We’re not such masochists, there’s an 85 year old surfer who still takes big waves at down here, so forget about being too old. Cheers and good luck!

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