|Aboriginal inspired print 'Turquoise Delight' with Lisa and Tamara Flanagan|
Lisa Burke is the water woman behind 'Lisa Blue' swimwear, with designs that are inspired by our Australian Aboriginal culture and fine art. Lisa Blue represents the girl of the future who can be sexy, beautiful, powerful and environmentally aware at the same time. Lisa talks candidly with Surf Sister about some intimate moments of her life. From human tragedy to overwhelming love and joy for the ocean and it's animals.
Can you tell us a bit about your history and how you came to be the water woman you are today?I think it is fair to say that I have taken the road less travelled. After I completed my University Bachelor of Arts degree in Melbourne at 22 years old I ventured out into the big wide world. Disillusioned with the values of Western society I set off to Japan. I lived in a remote fishing village in the south of Japan running an English school for several months.
My next stop was to change my life forever - India. When I landed in India I had a feeling like I had come home. I felt like I had travelled through a time tunnel and landed in biblical times. I fell in love with India so much so that I thought I would spend the rest of my life living there. I lived in a mud hut in the mountains in the south of India in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Behind my dwelling was a 9000 feet drop overlooking the most breathtaking views of endless jungle. My hut was a 15 km walk through the forest to the village. I had no running water, often no electricity and apart from the Indian family whom I rented the hut from I was totally isolated.
Life was very basic and my days were filled with living simply. To take a shower meant fetching buckets of water and carrying them up the hill for half a kilometer. Everything I ate was so pure and fresh. I was given a monkey whose mother was killed by dogs and brought a race horse from Madras. I had the most amazing adventures living here - I encountered a tiger alone one time when I was deep in the jungle. My first born child came from this chapter of my life. My very handsome half Indian son is now an 18 year old. When my son was a toddler we returned to Australia. Whilst I was away my Indian husband died in an accident and I was never to return to my beautiful India. A part of me had died and for a long time I felt a deep grief.
My little boy and I resided in the country Victoria, Australia and I pursued different careers - worked in varied roles at a residential meditation retreat for cancer patients, ran a horse trail riding business, studied business and more. After the birth of my second son I moved with my sons to a warmer climate by the sea to the Northern New South Whales pretty coastal town Byron Bay. I raised my two boys alone and studied a lot of alternative therapies and completed a Kinesiology degree. And then I discovered my passion for surfing. For several years I had lived with grief and there was not a day I did not miss my life in India. It was surfing that changed everything for me!
The ocean started to heal my heart. Out on my surf board I was often surrounded by dolphins and I would spend hours with them. I could not get enough of this and when I saw a little two line advertisement in the local paper 'Swim with whales in Tonga' I became very excited. I took my first born son, whom was 10 years old at the time, to Tonga with the sole purpose to swim with humpback whales. I came face to face with these 15 meters, 20 tonne, gentle, ancient giants of the ocean. No words can describe this experience...The mother and baby whale approached me. The baby came so close to me as though to touch me that I backed up. The eyes, only a foot away, looked straight into my soul. My heart burst open. In that moment I promised that I would do what I could to help protect them and their environment. In spite of the history of humans killing these angelic beings they look at us with such immense unconditional love.
Two years later, in Byron Bay, after I had been ill for several months and so had not been in the water, I decided to paddle out on my surf board to get a closer look at the migrating whales. I paddled out about 2 km and at that point could see the whales breaching a couple of km away. From my heart I began to call the whales. I longed to be close to them. After about an hour of being out there I decided that I was kidding myself and began to head back to shore. I turned to paddle and wondered how on earth I got out so far. After several strokes I stopped to rest. And for some reason I turned my head around. About 3 meters from me a whale surfaced and looked me directly in the eye. I screamed with joy! An eagle circled above and a stingray appeared also. I was so elated I powered back to shore. I got my sign! I remembered my promise. It was time to take action!
I decided to not give into my illness and I flew to Bali to surf. After having surfed two seasons in Oz I felt I was ready for Bali. I was dropped off by a canoe 2 km into the ocean (high tide) at a reef break, named Airport Middles, to be faced with 15 foot waves. I was shaking with fear and excitement. I managed to ride a ten footer and then got ‘majorly’ wiped out. It felt like I was under water forever. No wonder there were only five blokes out there. It was on of the greatest moments of my life. And the fact that I was a 37 year old, single mother beginner was sensational. That day I felt I could do anything. I thought about my promise to the baby whale. Sitting out on my board in the ocean I pondered– “Surfing, fashion, whales, dolphins, swimwear, modeling…”...Hence began my plan to create a swimwear label that could help protect the whales and the dolphins. From the Blue was born my dream...
One of our pro female surfers in Byron told me that the greatest female surfer in the world will be the girl who can surf the big waves and be feminine and sexy at the same time.
What does surfing mean to you personally?
I see 'surfing' as a metaphor for life. 'Lisa Blue' represents the girl of the future who can be sexy, beautiful, powerful and environmentally aware at the same time. She is not afraid to share her beauty with the world and so shows other girls that they too can shine. If had time I would do many water sports but I do make time to swim in the ocean as much as possible. I live next to the beach and my dogs love the beach too.
What inspires you when creating new bikini designs?Every year I travel to Bali to surf and design. It is there that I connect with my creative spirit and start to channel my ideas. Plus I am strongly and passionately inspired by our Australian Aboriginal culture. Once again, for the 2012 range, I have been inspired by a stunning Australian Aboriginal dot painting. The artist, Rosie Miller, is from the Whale tribe (Mirning tribe) in South Australia and is a strong supporter of the Lisa Blue campaign - help towards marine life conservation. I have created 3 very different tribal prints for the new collection ranging from an earthy tribal print to a glamorous gold flecked version.
I draw from my life experiences and my passions when I create my range. I love art. For the Divinity story in the 2012 collection I have placed paintings from the Romantic Era on the swimwear which reflects my love for the masterpieces from the old world.
My passion for the whales is also the inspiration behind the Galactic stories for the 2012 collection. In mythology it is said that the whales and dolphins came from the stars and their magic stems from other worlds. As I have swum up close and personal to whales and dolphins I have experienced their power, which is beyond words. The Galactic theme ties in with this mythology. Metallic gold and silver panels on matte black, smoky grey and a deep, vibrant purple depict the Galactic theme in intricate 'sci-fi' looking cuts with gold and silver studs to add an edgy but glamorous touch to the Galactic Warrior.
Any business advise for our readers who want to start their own business?
In fashion, whilst it is essential to keep an eye on the trends, I believe it is important to follow one's heart and one's dreams. This aspect of design manifests a strong point of difference. People are always looking for something new and unique. Having said this one must create a fine balance between creativity and the commercial needs. Determination, hard work and long hours are required in starting your own business. Plus getting a good team is essential. The most challenging part of running my own business is to keep a balanced life style. As a single mum I have had to force myself to know when to stop. In the beginning I worked non stop. This lead to health issues and angry kids. Now I try not to lose sight of the big picture and take time out...This is an ongoing challenge.
|Divinity story inspired from John Waterhouse's painting 1901 called 'The Mermaid'|
For more on Lisa Blue www.lisablue.com.au