Brisbane-based Marian Long’s landscape designs exude a character that tells a story, bringing a sense of joy to people and enriching the urban environment. Prior to her career in landscape architecture, Marian was a highly successful set decorator and art director for major motion pictures, strengthening her capabilities as a designer and her exposure to diverse landscapes in many countries.
Originally studying landscape architecture in Brisbane, Marian subsequently trained under well-known US landscape architect Martha Schwartz, inspired by her energy and witty designs that referenced modern art and culture, and pushed the boundaries of the landscape architecture profession. After returning to Australia, Marian worked as a set decorator, researching and designing for a myriad of different characters, cultures and eras on film and TV productions.
From the Australian desert to the fields and snowy forests of New Zealand and East Europe for the Narnia Chronicles, she collaborated with a variety of consultants, artists and technicians, and supervised large teams of set dressers to create clever illusions for the camera.
“There’s nothing like working on location as part of a film crew to experience the sheer wonder, strength and persistence of nature,” says Marian. “‘RESPECT’, that’s what the environment says to me. We were often at its mercy.”
“A 15-year drought broke while filming in the desert resulting in beautiful wild flowers as far as the eye could see. This was stunning, except a dry, desolate desert look was required for the story. Another time, filming in the Slovenian Alps, a heat wave melted the snow caps, resulting in a flash flood down river which swept away half the film set.”
Learning from these extreme landscapes, Marian adopts a storytelling approach to urban landscapes that draws on historic periods, modern culture and art, resulting in an approach that is novel, inventive and versatile.
“These situations required essential skills of quick thinking, problem solving, flexibility and, of course, humour,” she adds.
Leaving the fantasy worlds aside, Marian’s passion for landscape architecture lies in exploring new possibilities and opportunities for the urban landscape, and bringing a little movie magic to the real world.
Marian completed her Master of Landscape Architecture degree at the University of Melbourne in 2011 and is a Registered Member of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects.