Strijthem was born in Belgium in 1964. She graduated from
Ghent State University in 1987 with a B.A. in Art History and
Archaeology, with emphasis on African art. Her interest in art
history and languages took her first to Bayreuth in Germany where
she studied Swahili and subsequently to England. In 1990 she
graduated from the School of Oriental and African Studies (London
University) with a Masters in Area Studies, majoring in African art
with minors in Swahili and African writing in English.
After earning a postgraduate
degree in the information field in 1993, Sylvia worked at the Kent
Institute of Art and Design in Canterbury. In 1995 she moved with
her husband to Hong Kong where she worked till 2003 in a diplomatic
During her stay in Hong Kong
Sylvia developed a keen interest in practicing Chinese brush
painting through the teaching of Poon Siu-han (Patti Poon).
At her return to England a
chance visit to an exhibition of Chinese brush painting by a local
art group became pivotal in taking up Chinese brush painting in
England. Today Sylvia continues her journey in learning the art of
the Chinese brush.
She lives in England with her
husband and daughter.