Gilbert van Reenen Biography

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a little about Gilbert van Reenen

Gilbert van Reenen

Gilbert van Reenen is of Dutch descent and emigrated to New Zealand from Indonesia with his family as a youngster. His schooling was in Invercargill. He trained as a veterinary scientist at New Zealand's defining University, Massey, and has practiced in various parts of the South Island. He later specialised in deer medicine and management then reproduction technology and research. He also developed a veterinary pharmaceutical which was widely used in the deer industry. About 1995 he turned his life long interest and passion for photography into a second professional career and rapidly gained a reputation as a creative commercial photographer. He is a keen aviator and has logged more than 1500 hours as pilot in command. As a university student he had a dream job during his summer vacations on an ongoing research study of the ecology and botany of the South Island alpine grasslands for the then Forest Research Institute (F&RES). During the course of five action packed summers he explored the headwaters of nearly every major river catchment in New Zealand's Southern Alps ... mostly on foot.
His professional photography involves commercial, editorial and illustrative assignments for branding, creating displays, advertising and various publications. He was among the first photographers to adopt and embrace printing techniques which use archival pigment inks and acid free substrates that only watercolour painters had used previously.
He has developed a portfolio of these highly distinctive images which are widely sought after as archival art prints and murals for décor for private and public buildings in several countries. He has produced the decor art for a number of resorts and hotels in Australia and New Zealand. He has recently installed a 15 metre wide mural print of one of his panoramic images in the reception area of a new building in Wellington. Gilbert
is a keen naturalist and is involved with the development of the Te Araroa national pathway and is a founding trustee of the Otago Te Araroa Trust. Gilbert has served several terms as a member of the Otago Conservation Board. He lives near Wanaka in Central Otago with his fabric artist wife Robyn and travels throughout New Zealand and internationally on his assignments. He has been on photographic expeditions to Antarctica, North & South America, Australia, Japan, China, Turkey, Indonesia, Italy, Croatia, India, Kashmir & Ladakh and recently Argentina and Chile. He has been involved in several strenuous expeditions to remote parts of Fiordland and Rakiura. One of his specialties is vineyard photography.
Gilbert has had numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout New Zealand. A recent major exhibition was titled Our Wider World, which was exhibited at Gallery De Novo in Dunedin then at Central Stories Gallery & Museum in Alexandra. It was a joint show with eminent former New Zealand Poet Laureate, Brian Turner . The exhibition matched Turner's lyrical and eloquent poetry to van Reenen's images - mostly of Central Otago. Both Turner and van Reenen are deeply concerned about the wanton desecration of the fragile Central Otago environment by ill conceived schemes promoted with dubious claims of community benefits. Click HERE to see a slide show of a selection of Gilbert's images matched to Brian's wonderful engaging poetry.

Gilbert has published four books. His first, Central Otago is a best seller and has just been reprinted for the fourth time. This was followed by New Zealand South which was also highly acclaimed. His latest book is titled "The Nature of Wanaka" and was launched in Wanaka in November by Brian Turner. He has more books in the pipeline. He contributed most of the images for Brian Turner's recent best selling back country miscellany Into The Wider World and the cover for Turner's JUST THIS which won the Poetry book prize in the NZ Post Book Awards competition in 2010. Also recently published by Random House (August 2012) is another collaborative effort which is receiving rave reviews titled Elemental - Central Otago Poems by Brian Turner illustrated by Gilbert. For a photo essay of some of the images from the book click HERE . Gilbert has recently published a book on the history of the Treble Cone Skifield near Wanaka. Read the Otago Daily Times Review.

One of Gilbert's recent exhibitions was a collaborative effort with West Coast Printmaker Liz Hawker called Stranded and depicted the grim experiences of a gang of 10 sealers, led by Davey Louston, who were stranded on the open Bay Islands off the coast of Haast in South Westland for four years from 1810 - 1814 before being rescued by a passing ship "Governor Bligh" The exhibition showed earlier this year in Southland at the Southland Museum & Art Gallery then at the Riverton Community Art Gallery then The Left Bank Gallery in Greymouth. Gilbert's current exhibition "Essence of Central Otago" of essential Central Otago imagery shows at Speargrass Inn at Fruitlands until January 29, 2014. For more information Click Here.

Gilbert has recently developed a new website which has a rapidly growing searchable database of his images. Vital Images is an ongoing project. Gilbert is a member of AIPA (The Advertising & Illustrative Photographers Association) and their Standard Terms and Conditions of Engagement apply to all commissioned work. (view) Clean Green Images Ltd was incorporated and registered with the New Zealand Companies Office in 1985 (registration no 286766).

During the summer of 2013, Gilbert was commissioned by the NZ Centre for Art Research at Auckland University to locate and photograph the southern locations of the drawings, sketches and paintings of the eminent 19th Century scientific illustrator naturalist & artist John Buchanan (FLS). Gilbert's Then & Now images were used as part of the Hocken Library exhibition about Buchanan's life and work entitled Art in the Service of Science: Dunedin's John Buchanan (1819 - 1898) which was shown at the Gus Fisher Gallery in Auckland during March & April 2013. Some of those "Then & Now" images can be viewed Here. An article about Gilbert's experiences on this fascinating project will be included in a comprehensive book on John Buchanan to be published by Otago University Press in late 2014.

Gilbert's fabric artist wife Robyn has been the organiser of the acclaimed Wanaka Autumn Art School for 29 years and Gilbert has been responsible for developing the highly regarded photography classes at the school.

Gilbert was recently awarded the 2014 Whare Kea / Kenneth Myer Artist in Residence at the Whare Kea Chalet on the Albert Burn Saddle above the East Branch of the Matukituki valley adjacent to the Mt Aspiring National Park.Gilbert will follow on from the spectacular work of the acclaimed sculptor Martin Hill the inaugural Artist in Residence there. Gilbert will spend two 10 day stints there and will focus on a broad suite of photographic projects including producing Time Lapse video sequences from the location. You can read his blog posts and see some preliminary time lapse & video sequences HERE

Gilbert and his daughter Erica have recently returned from Stage One of the Artist in Residency and produced a well illustrated daily blog while on the mountain. You can access & read it HERE.