The Deployment of Henri's Reef off the coast of Vancouver Island - Artist Henri van Bentum, 1929-2022

"Coral Fantasy", acrylic on paper, 1965 Henri van Bentum, Private Collection

In Loving Memory:  Saturday, May 27th marked the deployment of Henri’s reef into the Salish Sea off the coast of Vancouver Island, at a dive and snorkelling site located near the Ten Mile Point ecological reserve.
Thanks to the people at Living Reef Memorial, the reef was created from Henri’s cremated ashes, crushed oyster and other seashells, low alkaline cement and sand. The reef has a ceramic plaque honouring Henri.
Just some of the underwater life (*) that can be found in Spring Bay, with its cold and strong currents are: frosted nudibranch, painted anemone, pink-tipped aggregating anemone, giant plumrose anemone, shiny sea squirt, three types of chiton, plus three types of dorid (leopard, Heath and Hudson), clown nudibranch, mottled star, blood star, green urchin, red urchin, purple urchin, and three kinds of sea cucumber.  (*) For this listing, thank you to Sara Ellison, author of the newly-published "Snorkelling Adventures Around Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands".

Soon Henri’s reef will be visited and inhabited by many underwater creatures. 

For many years, Henri went on snorkelling / dive expeditions to such faraway locations as the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Indonesia. He had a great love for all creatures of the seven seas. In addition to circumnavigating the planet by ship three times, in his eighth decade Henri wrote five children’s books, three of which feature coral reefs and the sea.
In the photo above, the arrow points to the reef at the back of the boat, about to be deployed. 

I only learned about Living Reef Memorial after Henri left us to continue his journey, but I know he would have found joy in the concept of “from cremation to creation”.
Here is a photo of Henri, back in in 2017, with his first children's book, 
"King Neptune's Jewels with Fins and Tails", hot off the press

Natasha van Bentum
Henri's partner of 51 years


More photos from the deployment of Henri's Reef


Here are some screen captures from a video by Living Reef Memorial of the deployment of Henri's Reef exactly two weeks ago, on May 27th.  

More details about the Living Reef can be found in the earlier post, published on the same day (scroll below).

The boat left from Esquimalt, en route to Ten Mile Point and the deployment site

Looking south, across Juan de Fuca Strait to the Olympic mountains 

Nearing Ten Mile Point 

The reef prior to deployment (Henri's plaque is on the back, not in view, see photo below)

The arrow points to the Reef about to be deployed

The ceramic plaque on Henri's Reef

Heading back home

In Loving Memory 
Henri van Bentum


Henri was a keen Snooker player, he would have enjoyed this:

This week my quasi-spoof, quasi-serious document, called "The Society for the Protection of Snooker Tables - An Endangered Species", was hung in the Billiards Room of the historic Union Club of British Columbia.  My beloved partner of fifty-one years, artist and keen snooker player, Henri van Bentum, (1929-2022) would have enjoyed it. 

Looking towards the west wall of the Billiards Room, the red arrow shows the framed document. There are two other full-size snooker tables in the room, shown below.

A photo of the late Henri van Bentum (1929-2022), shown in action in the Billiards Room

Natasha van Bentum
July 2023



Celebrating Light: A Journey Through the Organiverse with Works by Rabindranath Tagore ("Gitanjali") and Henri van Bentum

 As a way of introducing the Gitanjali / Organiverse project (see post of February15th ), we've linked up with the UNESCO International Day of Light 2023 to introduce one of Rabindranath Tagore's poems (#57, "Light") and one of Henri van Bentum's 'Organiverse' mandalas (#57 of #100 set). The site has a link to the full project, encompassing all 100 mandalas and 100 poems.  https://vanbentum.wixsite.com/journey



Special Edition of "Gitanjali and Beyond" devoted to Henri van Bentum's "Organiverse" mandalas and featuring a reading of the "Gitanjali" song offerings (poems) by Rabindranath Tagore

Cover of "Gitanjali and Beyond", Issue No. 7,  Rabindranath Tagore, Henri van Bentum

Today the Scottish Centre for Tagore Studies published its annual eJournal, "Gitanjali & Beyond", devoted to a project marrying the 100 Organiverse mandalas by Henri van Bentum (1929-2022) with the 'Song Offerings' (Gitanjali) of Rabindranath Tagore. In 1913, Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize in Literature for "Gitanjali".

The concept and production of this project was done by Henri's friend Brian W.E. Johnson, who reads Tagore's poems.
Brian W.E. Johnson

"Slow Art" in motion --- painting, poetry, and sound. This special issue of "Gitanjali and Beyond" comprises 221 pages and is intended to be studied quietly over time.

Here is the link. 

Below is an excerpt from Dr. Bashabi Fraser's Foreword:

"When Natasha van Bentum first wrote to me about her husband, Henri van Bentum’s 100 Mandalas (created in 1972) which have been recently structured as reflections on Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali poems, I was intrigued. I asked Natasha to send me samples of this project, and she was willing to send me the entire opus of Organiverse and Gitanjali.

The compositions, completed while Henri and Natasha lived on the island of Madeira, are done in pointillism in water colour. They are intricate and intense. The idea of mandalas with their Hindu and Buddhist symbolism, signify a universal search for release from suffering, reaching out towards an unutterable joy.

. . . Henri’s mandalas, with their perfect circular pattern, encompass and visualise worlds that unfold from the first blue representation of the pondering universe and go on to explore and explode in colours that come together like the rising sun, the colours of the rainbow, unfurling petals, swirling dreams, bursting stars, crystallising shapes which are infinite in their possibilities and suggestiveness, till the final ones that speak of life’s fulfilment reflected in the image of the rising sun, meditative and expectant in its promise of life’s continuity.

. . . Henri’s positive approach to life in spite of the many obstacles he encountered, his courage and success are apparent in these mandalas which defeat the idea of chaos with their cosmic energy that is both transformative and transporting. They represent life itself in its many manifestations and speak directly to the viewer with an appeal that is mesmerising.

    There is something sacred about their affirmation and celebration of life, a sense of inclusion that is compelling."

Organiverse mandala 23 of 100, Henri van Bentum
Watercolour on paper, 1972
Copyright (C) Estate of Henri van Bentum 

LINK TO FOREWORD AND THE FULL PROJECT: https://gitanjaliandbeyond.co.uk/2023/02/15/gitanjali-and-beyond-issue-7-special-issue-organiverse/