Picture Book Author & Illustrator
Books, stories and pictures have provided a life-long fascination for me. Children's picture books in particular, with their intertwined rhythms of pictures and words combining to tell a story in an often deceptively simple way, have always interested me. My first picture book, 'Mrs McGinty and the Bizarre Plant' was published in 1981 by Oxford University Press.
Gavin Bishop  O.N.Z.M
Ngati Pukeko, Ngati Awa, Ngati Mahuta, Tainui
Gavin Bishop is a children’s writer of international, as well as local, reputation. As a picture book author and artist he has published 70 books that have been translated into twelve languages and won numerous awards. He has also written the libretti for two children’s ballets for the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

His distinctive ink and watercolour illustrations are a feature of stories that are sometimes traditional, sometimes original. Stories that have an obvious Canterbury setting include Mrs McGinty and the Bizzare Plant (Oxford University Press 1981), Bidibidi (OUP 1982) and The Horror of Hickory Bay (OUP 1984). Others such as Katarina (Random House 1990) and Hinepau (Scholastic 1994) relate to his bi-cultural heritage. The House that Jack Built (Scholastic 1999), which deftly combined traditional words with pictures illustrating the colonization of New Zealand, was Book of the Year in the 2000 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.
Gavin Bishop has been shortlisted for NZ book awards more times than any other author of any kind.
He is widely travelled and has been a guest author and speaker, through UNESCO, in Japan, China, Indonesia and the USA. He was a guest lecturer at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1996.
  • Diploma in Fine Arts (Honours) in Painting – Canterbury University School of Fine Arts 1964 – 1967
  • Secondary Teachers Diploma with Honours – Secondary Teachers’ College 1968
  • Degree papers in Japanese and Art History - Canterbury University 1970, 1971, 1975
Employment History
During his years of secondary school teaching he was involved in the following professional activities:
- Curriculum writing for the Department of Education
- Examining National School Certificate, University Entrance and Bursary Art Examinations
- Planning and running National Art Education Conferences
- Travelling as a Secondary Schools’ Art Adviser for the Southern Region, 1978.
  • HOD Art Linwood College 1969 – 1989
  • HOD Art Christ’s College 1989 – 1999
  • Lecturer in Illustration and Drawing at the Rhode Island School of Design, USA 1996
  • Lecturer at the School of Art and Design, Christchurch 1999 – 2001
  • UNESCO - Asian Cultural Centre for UNESCO – guest lecturer and workshop facilitator in China 1992 and Indonesia 1997
  • External Peer Assessor of Literature Funding Applications for Arts Council of NZ and Creative NZ 1988 – 2016
  • NZ Book Council, Writers in Schools Scheme 1982 – visiting hundreds of schools over the last 30 years.
  • Trust Member of The Press Christchurch Writers’ Festival 2000 – 2005
  • Dan Davin Trust Young Writers’ Competition – judge and workshop facilitator  2008
  • Talks, lectures, seminars, workshops and key-note speeches about Children’s Literature –presenting a large number of these nationally on a regular basis
  • Society of Authors’ Mentor Programme – workshop facilitator.
  • Featured speaker at the 2016 IBBY Congress, Auckland 2016
Between 1981 and 2016 Gavin Bishop has written and/or illustrated the following publications or projects.
  • 70 Children’s Picture Books translated into twelve languages.
  • 40 Non-fiction stories for Harcourts Educational Publishers, San Antonio, Texas, USA.
  • 30 Educational Readers for New Zealand Publishers.
  • 2 Libretti and Designs for ballets commissioned by the Royal New Zealand Ballet Company – TERRIBLE TOM 1985 and TE MAIA AND THE SEA DEVIL1986
  • Scripts for 2 Television Series for NZTV - BIDIBIDI 1990 and BIDIBIDI TO THE RESCUE 1991
  • 3 of his books were adapted for the stage by Capital E in Wellington– HINEPAU 2005 and KIWI MOON 2008 and the Court Theatre in Christchurch – MRS MCGINTY AND THE BIZARRE PLANT 2015
  • Story and character designs for a three-dimensional, animated picture book - GIANT JIMMY JONES in conjunction with the HIT Lab, Canterbury University 2003 (see www.hitlabnz.org for details)
Professional Profiles
  • Articles about his work have appeared in publications such as Magpies, Spinning Tales, The NZ Listener, The Press, The NZ Herald, White Ravens, The Horn Book, Artists of the Page, July in Winter, Landfall, Storylines Inside Story as well as several foreign language periodicals. He has been interviewed on radio and television many times.
  • A television documentary ‘KETE ARONUI Gavin Bishop’ was produced by Maori TV, 2010.
  • ‘JOURNEYS IN IMAGERY: The Art and Illustration of Gavin Bishop’ by Briar Barry 2009:  a dissertation for a Degree in Art History at the University of Otago.
Major Awards / Recognition
  • LIANZA RUSSELL CLARK MEDAL – for Illustration in 1982, 2006, 2008, 2010
  • Runner-up - NOMA CONCOURS for Children's Picture Book Illustration – Japan 1982
  • GRAND PRIX - NOMA CONCOURS for Children's Picture Book Illustration - Japan 1984
  • NZ CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOK OF THE YEAR,  1982, 1994, 2000, 2013
  • NZ CHILDREN’S BOOK OF THE YEAR – 2000, 2003, 2008
  • PANZ DESIGN AWARD for the Best Use of Illustration in a New Zealand Book 2000, 2009
  • Books added to the WHITE RAVENS COLLECTION, International Youth Library, Munich, Germany 1981,  1982, 1984,1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016
  • Jury Member for the NOMA CONCOURS - competition for International Picture Book       Illustrators, UNESCO, Tokyo, Japan. 2002
  • URSULA BETHELL WRITER IN RESIDENCE at the University of Canterbury 2003
  • SMASH PALACE ART and SCIENCE COLLABORATION GRANT - produced the world’s first 3- dimensional, animated  picture book with the H.I.T. Lab, University of Canterbury 2003.
  • MARGARET MAHY MEDAL for Services to Children’s Literature 2000
  • STORYLINES GAVIN BISHOP AWARD for new illustrators was established by Storylines NZ Children’s Literature Foundation and Random House NZ Ltd in recognition of his work, 2009.
  • Represented NZ at TIBE (Taipei International Book Expo), Taipei, Taiwan, 2011 and 2015.
  • WRITER IN RESIDENCE, Top of the South, Society of  Authors, Nelson 2012
  • Arts Foundation MALLINSON RENDAL ILLUSTRATORS'  AWARD, October 2013
  • ONZM from the NZ Government for services to literature 2013.
  • HONORARY DOCTORATE OF EDUCATION,  University of Canterbury 2016
Professional Memberships
  • TE HA, Contemporary Maori Writers
  • STORYLINES Children’s Literature Charitable Trust
  • ICADS - International Society of Art Deco Architecture and Design
Current Board Member of the:
  • PAINTED STORIES Te Tai Tamariki Preservation Charitable Trust for NZ Children’s Literature.* (www.tetaitamariki.org.nz)
  • INTERNATIONAL PROMOTIONAL FUND APPLICATIONS panel for the Publishers’ Association of New Zealand.
* The PAINTED STORIES/Te Tai Tamariki Trust was established in Christchurch in 2006. Its aim is to collect and archive original and digital manuscripts and illustrations from New Zealand Children’s books to show the relationship between illustration and story telling. In the future it is hoped the trust will have a permanent centre in which to hold exhibitions and events for children and adults. The centre will also offer research facilities.
In 2009, the trust established a small gallery in Victoria Street, Christchurch but it was demolished after the earthquakes of 2011. However, since 2006, ten major exhibitions of picture book art have been held in venues such as the COCA gallery in Christchurch and the Canterbury Museum. Several of these exhibitions travelled to other centres in New Zealand. WAIRUA – Maori Tikanga in Children’s Books, opened at the Canterbury Museum before travelling to Puke Ariki, New Plymouth, then continuing to tour for several years.
Artwork from books by Joy Cowley ran in Blenheim in 2015 to compliment the Marlborough Writers’ Festival in July. In 2016, the trust organized its largest exhibition yet. Twenty illustrators featured in a specially designed show for the IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) Congress in Auckland in August.
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