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