Robert van Koesveld – photographer
Although born in Australia, Robert ‘inherited’ an international perspective from his Java-Dutch parents who had lived in many countries. His father spoke nine languages including Japanese, having learnt it working in Japan in 1917. Robert’s family home regularly had visitors from Japan and other countries; Japanese craft was an early influence. He travelled extensively as a young man and has returned to travel as his children grew up.
Robert has been photographing full-time for over ten years. His interested in image-making began in adolescence with film-based photography and continued in the darkroom and with colour transparencies, until he enthusiastically converted to a digital workflow.
Prior to his photography career, he was a psychotherapist and educator for many years, and this influences his creative process as a photographer. Robert strives for a synergy between his observations, his feelings and his camera use, so that his images create a palpable, emotional engagement between the subject and the viewer.
In his exhibitions and performance-art works Robert is most interested in exploring the Liminal – the spaces between. This draws him towards aspects of the physical, personal and cultural worlds that seem to sit apart – outside of a specific place and time – and encompasses archetypes and the sacred.
Robert’s solo exhibition, ‘Seeing Geiko’, was exhibited recently at The Empty Quarter Gallery in Dubai. The title referred to the need to see other cultures openly, rather than through the lens of one’s own culture. Some of that work was previously exhibited in a solo experiential exhibition in Kyoto – ‘Seeing Geiko’.
Additionally, Robert enjoys creating the picture essay form and has contributed a number of these to Kyoto Journal. He has a fascination with alternative printing processes and small-edition book-making and design.
He has led photography tours to Bhutan for many years – after co-authoring (with his wife Libby Lloyd) the book ‘Bhutan Heartland: Travels in the Land of the Thunder Dragon’ (published by Fremantle Press). He has also led photo-tour groups to China, India and Japan. His current longer-term photographic projects in Japan, Bhutan and India, reflect his interest in deepening his work by multiple visits to specific places.
His book ‘Geiko and Maiko of Kyoto’ (distributed by Penguin) won the Australian Institute of Professional Photographer’s Award 2015 for the Best Photo Book of the Year.