Gavin Bishop was born in Invercargill and educated at Kingston Primary School at Lake Wakatipu, Clifton Primary School, Invercargill, and Southland Technical College. He studied at the School of Fine Arts in Christchurch from 1964-68 graduating with Dip. F.A. (Hons) and in 1968 he attended Christchurch Teachers’ College and obtained a Teaching Diploma. Bishop taught Art at Linwood High School in Christchurch for twenty years and subsequently was Head of the Art Department at Christ’s College until 1998 when he became a full-time writer/illustrator of children’s books. He has won many awards for his books including the Russell Clark Medal for Illustration (1982), New Zealand Picturebook of the Year (1982, 1994 and 2000), and the Grand Prix of the Noma Concours, Japan, (1984). He was awarded NZ Children’s Book of the Year in 2000 and 2003. In 2000 he was presented with the Spectrum Print Award for the Best Use of Illustration in a New Zealand Book and was awarded the New Zealand Book Council Margaret Mahy medal for Services to Children’s literature – New Zealand’s highest honour for children’s literature. He was awarded a Christchurch Writers’ Walkway Bronze Plaque in 2002 and won the NZ Children’s Non-fiction Book of the Year in 2003. His children’s books are published internationally and articles about his work have appeared in the Library Association Journal, Times Education Supplement (London) and various other Australian, American and British publications. He was included in the 1990 edition of International Authors and Writers Who’s Who published by Burkes Peerage of London. In 1994 he designed 12 covers for a pre-school magazine for Chinese children published by the Shanghai Children and Juvenile Publishing House. In 1994 and 1995 he was a member of the Children’s Literature Grants committee of the NZ Arts Council. Bishop was author of a module on “Writing and Illustrating for Children” for the National Diploma of Children’s Literature at the Department of Extension Studies, College of Education, Christchurch. In 1996 he was guest lecturer at the Art Centre School of Design in Pasadena, California, and tutored “Drawing” and “Children’s Picturebook Design” for the spring semester at the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1997 he was awarded a QE II Arts Council Children’s Writers’ Project Grant to complete an historical picture book. Also in that year he gave lectures and ran a workshop on Children’s Picture Book Illustration and Design in Jakarta, and for the Asian Cultural Centre for UNESCO in Tokyo. From 1999-2001 he taught Image and Text at the Art & Design College of Aotearoa NZ.
Bishop is a member of the New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN New Zealand Inc.) and the New Zealand Illustrators’ Guild. He participated in the Words On Wheels Tour of Marlborough and Nelson in February 2000 with Elizabeth Knox, Vincent O’Sullivan, Catherine Chidgey, Briar Grace Smith and Lydia Wevers. In May of that year, Bishop was guest speaker at the Children’s Book Council of Australia Conference in Canberra, and later in 2000 presented two papers at the 18th World Congress of Reading in Auckland. In March 2001 he led the Words on Wheels Tour of Northland. In 2002 he was appointed to the Christchurch Books and Beyond Festival Trust and was also judge for the Noma Concours Children’s Picture book Art Competition in Tokyo. In 2003 he was Writer-in-Residence at the University of Canterbury and received a Smash Palace Art and Science Collaboration Grant with the HIT Lab, Canterbury University. Bishop was a Jury Member for the Noma Concours competition for international Picture Book Illustrators, UNESCO, Tokyo, Japan. In 2004 he had a major exhibition of art from The House that Jack Built (Scholastic, 1999) at the Dowse Gallery, Lower Hutt, which toured to Rotorua, Blenheim, Palmerston North, Nelson and Gisborne. Also in 2004 he had an exhibition of art from Weaving Earth and Sky at the Salamander Gallery in Christchurch. In 2005 he represented New Zealand at the 20th Biennale of Illustration held in Bratislava. Hinepau Capital E Production toured North Island in 2005 and had an Australian season in October 2006. In 2006 he an exhibition of original art at the Salamander Gallery in Christchurch.
"Bishop supplied illustration to Joy Cowley’s 2004 children’s book The Little Tractor (2004), and to Jean Prior’s The Waka, published by Scholastic in 2005. The latter of which was selected as a joint finalist in the Picture Book Category of the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Between these projects, Bishop wrote and illustrated Taming The Sun: Four Mâori Myths (Random House, 2004), wherein he retells four essential Maori myths: Maui and the sun, Kahu and the taniwha, Maui and the big fish, and Rona and the moon. Taming The Sun: Four Mâori Myths was a finalist in the picture book category at the 2005 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults, as well as for the Russell Clark Award at the 2005 LIANZA Children's Book Awards. Its sequel, Counting the Stars: Four Maori Myths, was published in 2009.
Kiwi Moon (2006) was published by Random House Publishing and won the The Russell Clark Award, a national distinction rewarding the finest pictures or illustrations for a children’s book. 'Kiwi Moon has all the appeal and promise of a future folktale classic', said the judging panel. 'It is an outstanding example of how text and illustrations can be interwoven to produce a marvellous whole.' Kiwi Moon traces the story of a little white kiwi that looks to the similarly-coloured moon as his mother-figure, with Bishop locating the kiwi in a changing Maori world where intertribal warfare, Pakeha interference, and the extinction of wildlife feature.
Bishop again lent his artistic hand in 2007 to illustrate Joy Cowley’s Snake & Lizard (Gecko Press, 2007), which the following year was awarded Best in Junior Fiction and Book of the Year at the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
Venturing into the realm of early autobiography, Bishop wrote and illustrated Piano Rock in 2008 to immortalize his childhood memories from the railway town of Kingston. Piano Rock won the 2009 PANZ Book Design Award in the children's category.
The Storylines Gavin Bishop Award was established in 2009. It aims to encourage the publication of new and exciting high-quality picture books from New Zealand illustrators. It also recognises the contribution Gavin Bishop has made to the writing and illustrating of children’s picture books and gives an emerging talent the opportunity to benefit from his expertise. Fourteen of Bishop's works have been listed as Storylines Notable Books, including four in 2010: Tom Thumb (2002), The Three Billy Goats Gruff (2004), Taming the Sun: Four Maori Myths (2005), Kiwi Moon (2006), The Waka (2006), Te Waka (2006), Riding the Waves: Four Maori Myths (2007), Snake & Lizard (2008), Rats! (2008), Piano Rock: A 1950s Childhood (2009), There Was a Crooked Man (2010), Cowshed Christmas (2010), Friends: Snake & Lizard (2010), and Counting the Stars: Four Maori Myths (2010).
More recently, Bishop has continued his collaboration with Joy Cowley by illustrating her 2009 book Cowshed Christmas, a finalist in the picture book category of the 2010 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Friends: Snake & Lizard, also written by Joy Cowley and illustrated by Gavin Bishop, was the Children's Choice Junior Fiction Category Winner.
A new edition of The House that Jack Built - and the first Te Reo Maori version - was published by Gecko Press in 2012 as Koinei te Whare na Haki i Hanga. Also published in 2012 was Mister Whistler, written by Margaret Mahy and illustrated by Gavin Bishop, which was awarded Best Picture Book at the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. Also in 2013, Bishop received the Arts Foundation Mallinson Rendel Illustrator's Award.
In 2013, Bishop joined the New Zealand Book Council board.
Bishop’s latest written and illustrated work is Teddy One-Eye (2014). Within the book, Bishop continues the autobiographical trend that he previously established in Piano Rock (2008), and - via the central character of Teddy One-Eye - leads the reader through the incidences and joys of his childhood.
Bishop’s latest artistic offerings are to be found alongside Joy Cowley’s text in The Road to Ratenburg, where Cowley and Bishop imaginatively present the exploits of a group of rats who journey to find the blissful Ratenburg. The Road to Ratenburg is scheduled for release in April 2016."
- Correspondence with Gavin Bishop, 1992, 19 Aug and 15 Nov 1997, 12 July 1998, 14 March 2004, 2 February 2006 and 6 March 2008.
- Arts Times Winter 1990: 18.
- Bishop’s website is: www.gavinbishop.com
http://www.bookcouncil.org.nz/Writers/Profiles/Bishop,%20gavin 28 September 2016