Lisl Barry (nee Boonzaier) grew up and completed her studies in Cape Town.
On meeting her soulmate, Tom Barry, Lisl found herself settling into a rural life on Gamkaberg Nature Reserve in the Little Karoo, in 1993. She immersed herself in this inspiring landscape, exploring a new-found fascination of natural science and in the rich experiences of backpacking to near and far flung destinations. Almost ten years later she and Tom evolved into a family with the birth of their two girl children: Jade, 2002 and Kai, 2004. They set off along a new pathway of discovery.
Lisl began painting watercolour landscapes in 1985 while still in high school.
After completing her Graphic Design diploma (majoring in Printmaking and Photography) in 1991, she designed and illustrated for Jacana publishers for seven years. She worked solely on their “Discover the Magic” series – each book covering a different geographic area of South Africa, sharing an account of its geological, natural and social history and how this shaped what is seen there today.
All through this time she continued to experiment with watercolour techniques and to paint that which inspired her in the world around her.
With the arrival of their first bush baby in 2002, she became a full-time mum. A year later she began working in oils in earnest and embarked upon her dream to become a fine artist.
She had by now developed a greater interest and love of nature and the different South African cultures and its people. Her growing understanding that everything that exists is linked, led her to explore within herself, on different levels, as she as she painted and taught her children; and her consciousness grew.
Lisl’s awe of the wondrous effect of light, perhaps born out of her love of photography, also greatly influences her work.
On a sensory level she now paints that which resonates with her eye and steals her breath – mostly quite ordinary moments transformed by the changing of light. On a soulful level the intrinsic connection she feels with every creature, as well as our ancient connection to the earth, she weaves with every layer of paint.
Lisl and Tom home-schooled their children until the end of 2012, based on the Waldorf system of learning, which allowed for a greater freedom of creativity and movement. They believed that their children would also learn awareness and understanding by the very nature of their lifestyle. The family explored not only their immediate surroundings as a learning space, but travelled to different parts of South Africa enabling the children to be exposed to many heartbeats of life and its’ stories. They believe in keeping things simple and embrace the lifestyle they have chosen for their family, with appreciation.
In 2008, an account of their family’s life experiences and Lisl’s learnings as a mother, took the form of a small book titled “52 Ways to Grow Creative Children” (initiated and published by Jacana). The book serves to inspire parents to spend time connecting with their young children doing simple, creative activities and gives ideas that encourage a greater opportunity to experience nature. Using easily accessible materials, these different activities work with a child’s natural desire to create and connect with nature. Since it’s essentially the child who does the creating, the activities can be directed by the most creative-challenged parent who wants their child to gather childhood memories and learning that go beyond television and computer games!
2013 bought about an altered state in all of their lives. The children’s growing need to interact daily with their peers meant a change to conventional schooling. Their nearest town, Oudtshoorn, 35km away, is one hugged by rugged mountains and canopied by an expansive, clear sky. While still living on Gamkaberg, Lisl now works from a beautiful, old waenhuis (wagon house) studio at the foot of the Swartberg mountains.