It was a chance errand run by a friend that propelled Lieve van den Bosch into photography.
Born and bred near Brussels, Belgium, she had begun a degree in psychology, but then she walked into the apartment of a photographer with her friend. It was festooned with photos he’d been developing in his darkroom. “Something just clicked,” she says (no pun intended). “I just knew immediately – this was what I had to do.”
A four-year degree in photography followed at the 100-year-old Sint-Lukas School of Arts in Brussels, then lots of travel around the world. Lieve’s job as an airline load controller (balancing the weight of freight inside aeroplanes) allowed her a certain amount of freedom – something which she took full advantage of.
Preferring fine art photography over commercial, Lieve has travelled and taken photos in Peru, Vietnam, Myanmar, Namibia, South Africa, Australia, the USA, Canada and further. She takes portraits, landscapes, anything that catches her eye – the quirkier the better.
“I’m definitely not into anything too pretty – no sunsets, flowers or rainbows. I like things that are old or weathered, things that make you stop and wonder about their story,” she says. Work available in Matakana Gallery includes stark European snowscapes, deserted beach huts or horses in the Namibian desert.
One of Lieve’s most memorable trips was to a remote farmhouse in the Andes in Peru. It was a hair-raising travel marathon to get there, involving hours of a terrifying, millimetres-from-death mountain bus trip, and seven hours of horse-riding on loose rock.
She stayed for two weeks in a small farming community with no electricity, no running water – not even a toilet. They all slept with the animals. How was the food? “Well, it was really mostly potatoes – the guinea pigs were only for special occasions!” Lieve says. “But I would definitely rather live rough and get interesting photographs than stay in a five-star hotel with no inspiration.”
Lieve met her partner Geert Keyaerts (featured in Junction’s April 2017 issue) in Brussells. He’d holidayed in NZ several times before and persuaded her to come over with him. The pair came north to Matakana, looked around, had lunch at a vineyard… and by 2011 they had moved across the world to live here.
Over the last years, Lieve has exhibited in the annual Auckland Festival of Photography; her work will be in a group show at the end of May at the Depot Artspace in Devonport. She has added to her talents with silversmithing too – her oxidised silver rings, earrings, bracelets and pendants feature textured surfaces and angled lines. Branded ‘oh so quiet’, it’s available at Kleurglass, Warkworth.
Lieve hopes her future will include more travel. Photo essays would be her dream. “I’d love to go back to Myanmar and photograph the locals wearing thanaka, a paste made of tree-bark which is used as a pale face paint – they look amazing!” she enthuses. We agree – the world captured through Lieve’s lens is something we want more of.