A descendant of the first convict settlers and author of several books and articles about Tasmanian family history, she was the first Tasmanian to publish a book about a convict ancestor (Thomas Burbury, Pioneer of Tasmania by E.M. Christensen and W. Sinclair, Victoria, 1979).
Barsham does not dwell on lurid details of the colonial penal system but admires the determination and fortitude shown by pioneering men and women who endured terrible hardships in creating the townships, farms and industries enjoyed today. She is passionate about the need to explore and record what traces remain of their lives, while preserving both the built environment and the remaining forests and primaeval wilderness.
Her uniquely imaginative oil paintings are an emotional expression of her ancestral connection to the landscape and its people. Often based on old family photographs, they feature grim-faced men, women and children against a backdrop of rugged mountains, impenetrable forest and crumbling buildings in an unsettling but hauntingly beautiful mixture of nostalgia, gothic romanticism and humour.