When you walk through our beautiful Vida Nova Retreat and Vida Nova Kruger lodges, your eyes will be drawn to the evocative and unique wildlife artwork, gracing the walls. The amazing talent behind these paintings is South African born, Noorden impressionist artist, Sylvia de Villiers.
Sylvia is a great friend to Fire Island Conservation founder, Bob Koski, and she inspired him to travel to South Africa many years ago. Already spurred by Sylvia’s stories, Bob fell in love with South Africa and spent a lot of time there. During one of these visits, Bob learned about, and eventually purchased, Ilha do Fogo.
Soon after visiting Ilha do Fogo, Bob pledged to protect the island’s marine life from destruction by poachers. Thus, Fire Island Conservation was born. We will always be grateful to Sylvia for being the driving force behind Bob’s first visit to South Africa, ultimately leading him to Ilha do Fogo, and the establishment of our eco-retreats.
Her story is touching. Born in South Africa in 1958, Sylvia grew up with a zest for life and a passion for adventure. Her love of wildlife, plants and people was transferred into her sketches and paintings, and although it started as more of a hobby, she always supplemented her income with her art.
Sylvia’s art only really became her focus in the 80s, after encouragement from local artists. She opened an art studio, and her skillful artworks were featured in many exhibitions across South Africa.
In 1994, the world almost ended for Sylvia. She suffered a debilitating condition that paralysed her and led to months spent in bed. During this time, she longed to inspire others around her. She defied the doctors, and eventually recovered from her illness, to focus on her art. This is when her work flourished.
Sylvia’s depictions of nature evolved into unconventionally colourful pieces, clearly representing her passion and adoration for the subject matter. She is renowned for capturing the souls of her subjects, and you can perceive the emotion centred on the eyes in her paintings.
Sylvia de Villiers has exhibited in the United States, South Africa, Austria, Holland, Germany, and Australia.