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QT Bondi Artist In Residence: Emma Maggs

Mar 27, 2024  ·  7 min read

Let’s get to know Emma Maggs, the photographer behind the art collection Wildfemmes, QT Bondi’s inaugural artist-in-residence, once called the 2026 postal code home and we welcome Emma back to the shores of the world’s most iconic beach.

Emma’s artistic style is best described as ferociously feminine. With a knack for finding inspiration in light and water, her work is a celebration of women holistically, their form and their stories, through underwater imagery.

Pieces from Emma’s most recent ADRIATIC collection now line the walls of our lobby, as QT Bondi’s artist in residence, inviting guests and locals to be transported from the heart of Bondi to the sun-drenched landscapes of Montenegro. The ADRIATIC collection is inspired by a European sojourn that brought together women from diverse corners of the globe. This collection is a celebration of self-discovery, sisterhood, the female form and the profound connection with the element of the water.

 

Emma Maggs, Hello! Welcome to the walls of QT Bondi, tell us everything there is to know about you and how you’ve come to do what you do? 

Thank you so much, it’s truly a lovely honour to be QT Bondi’s artist in residence.

Well I am a country girl with salt in my veins, having grown up on a farm in Victoria. I lived the majority of my life in Melbourne, till I was 27, and moved to Bondi Beach to continue pursuing my career as a Producer and Director. I think it’s safe to say this is where my love for the ocean that already strongly existed, truly exploded and became a way of life, and a form of oxygen.

I believe this helped me manifest some brilliant projects that I’ve had the pleasure of working on, such as the World Surf League’s Australian tour events, the first big wave surf event in Australia, and many other local and international adventure and travel related content pieces.

In 2020 when the world spun off its axis, I was craving a new outlet and creative growth and after having a bumpy year of work, life and health, I had developed a huge appreciation for what the female body could endure, and create. I was also in a privileged position to be surrounded by incredibly inspiring women who trusted my vision. Cue Wildfemmes.

It started as an outlet, almost like a form of therapy for me, and quickly evolved into a lasting and impactful photography and interview series that I’ll forever be grateful for.

QT Bondi Artist In Residence: Emma Maggs - Emma Maggs - Headshot
Emma Maggs – Headshot

 

We are so lucky to have pieces from your most recent collection, ADRIATIC, in our lobby as part of the QT Bondi artist in residency, what inspired you to create this collection and why did you choose Montenegro? 

One day I was scrolling on Instagram (as you do) and I came across this page, Samudra Collective, and it spoke to me. No word of a lie, I said to my husband Scott, “How great would it be if this retreat got in touch and asked me to come over to Montenegro and shoot!?”. And literally within a couple of days, I was on a call with the incredible founder Olivia Frassinelli and within minutes of chatting we had decided. I would depart Australia for Montenegro and join them as part of an artist residency.

The retreat was all about connection – with each other, with self and as women our connection to the water. You can see how we came into each other’s orbits now, can’t you?!

Women from diverse corners of the globe came together in Montenegro, where we had the opportunity to experience incredible practices such as yoga, breathwork, meditation, journaling, embodiment. In addition to what this particular retreat centre had to offer, from a range of body work, naturopathy, detoxification, alignment and so much more.

On one of the days, Olivia took us out on the Adriatic via boat and toured the coastline and swam in its crystal-clear waters. For me, it was an unforgettable experience and I had to stop myself from calling my family to say, “We live here now.” So the next day, I chartered another boat out to this tiny island off the coast of Petrovac. It is here that the ADRIATIC collection was born, where each of us felt so at home in this salty paradise that we could be completely free. The energy was electric and we had so much fun together! That is really an important part of this process.

 

Tell us about how the ADRIATIC collection fits into the broader themes and motifs of your body of work as an artist?

Wildfemmes is the celebration of women holistically – their form and their stories – through ethereal underwater imagery with strong and feminine muses.

I felt completely simpatico with Olivia and the inspiring experiences she was creating with Samudra. I’ve come to realise flow and alignment really is everything. She creates a safe space for women to grow, heal, empower each other, learn, all whilst exploring the world. Which is a huge love of mine, and keeps me wild.

There were women there from France, Costa Rica, the US, Australia, Brazil, Sweden and England, who were all there for different reasons (including myself). Yet when we were in the water together it became the great equaliser – it was positively kinetic.

The ADRIATIC collection is the perfect example of what being a wild femme really is. Supporting your fellow woman and embracing who you are today not who you might become. A full circle experience of self-love and respect.

QT Bondi Artist In Residence: Emma Maggs - 'Summer Soup' - ADRIATIC Collection
‘Summer Soup’ – ADRIATIC Collection

 

We know it’s tough to play favourites, but if you had to choose, is there a particular piece of the collection that holds a special place in your heart?

It is so tough, however I think ‘Champagne & Mermaids’ feels like my magnum opus for this collection. When I look at that piece I am instantly transported back to those warm waters of Montenegro and feel a sense of calm and ultimately inspired. And I love that art can make you feel so strongly and create such a special connection.

QT Bondi Artist In Residence: Emma Maggs - 'Champagne & Mermaids' - ADRIATIC Collection
‘Champagne & Mermaids’ – ADRIATIC Collection

 

Could you share some useful tips on how to pick the perfect piece of the ADRIATIC collection to take home?

For me personally, if you are someone with a minimalist style or lean into more neutral tones, pairing the black and white pieces with a pop of colour really stands out and catches your eye. And you can have some fun with sizes or creating clusters.

My main tips for choosing art are always:

  • Trust your gut and listen to what speaks to you.
  • Positioning – do you want the art piece to be a focal point or just part of the ambience?
  • Understand the mood and style you are wanting to create in each room.
  • Understand the colour palette you want to work with and choose the perfect framing accordingly. Quality production and materials are Queen.

 

Immerse yourself IRL in the QT Bondi artist in residence ADRIATIC collection in our lobby or explore virtually here.


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