Born in England, Gillian lived in Manhattan until she moved to Connecticut in 1994. As an exhibiting member of the Art Society of Old Greenwich, Darien Arts Center, The Greenwich Art Society, New Canaan Society for the Arts, and Rowayton Arts Center, she has won more than 60 awards. She was awarded three Honorable Mentions in the 2006 International Photography Awards, for which contest the IPA received more than 17,000 entries from over 40 countries. In 2005, the IPA awarded her two Honorable Mentions; over 16,000 entries were submitted from 32 countries.
Gillian's images appeared in the 1996, 1997, 1998, 2004 and 2007 editions of the Fairfield Town Planner Calendar. Gillian's images were selected and sold in Stamford Downtown's festival, "Celebrating Woman", summer 2004. For nine consecutive years, her photographs have been selected for exhibition by Greenwich, CT retailers during Greenwich Arts Council's annual Spring Festival, "Art to the Avenue".
Gillian has an innate passion for South Asia, which, she believes, is the rich legacy of her late uncle, who served as a British Political Officer in Tibet, Bhutan and Sikkim, in the 1930’s. He and her late aunt spent 2½ years based in Sikkim (now a territory of India), during which time they formed deep personal relationships with the royal families of Bhutan and Sikkim and Tibet’s 13th Dalai Lama. Each year, since 1995, Gillian continues to travel extensively in South Asia…fulfilling her passion for this region of our world, enmeshed in the culture and folklore of Bhutan, India, Mongolia, Thailand, Tibet, and Sri Lanka. She has visited Bhutan three times, twice as a guest of the Royal Family. In 1998, during her first visit to this Himalayan kingdom, she met Ashi Tashi (sister of Her Majesty the Royal Grandmother). During her aunt and uncle’s time in Bhutan, Gillian’s Aunt Peggy and Ashi (Bhutanese for ‘princess’) shared a great friendship, despite their seventeen-year age difference. Gillian recalls, “It was so very moving to come full circle, sixty-five years later”.
In 2000, during her travels in India, Gillian was granted a private audience with His Holiness XIV Dalai Lama, in Dharamsala, where His Holiness and thousands of Tibetans have lived in exile from Chinese-occupied Tibet since 1959. A unique experience, she recalls, and one that she will not soon forget. “His Holiness is a modest man, of huge knowledge and depth, and a rich sense of humor. His true greatness is born in the depths of his simplicity; his presence is all-embracing. He welcomed me with warmth. We sat in comfortable chairs, facing each other and enjoying conversation. For twenty minutes I was aware only of this holy man and the complete attention he gave me.”
Six years ago, Gillian began sponsoring a child in India, Chandrika – “now eight years old, beautiful and highly intelligent.” As in all Gillian’s travels, children are everywhere…filled with curiosity, they surround her, follow her, giggling, laughing, full of friendship and warmth. In 2004, while touring in the western state of Gujarat, Chandrika crept into her heart. Walking around a village with her host, Hanu, Gillian noticed this little girl, standing off to the side and obviously not well. The next day, Hanu and Gillian returned to the village, scooped up Chandrika and her mother and took them off to Hanu’s doctor. Then, off to shop for clothes and toiletries, and this child has been in Gillian’s life ever since. Last year, Chandrika started school at a local secondary school near her village. Her teacher says she is one of her best students, quick, eager to learn, soaking up knowledge like a sponge. “It makes my heart sing to think of this precious child, growing and learning, and having a chance to better her life”, says Gillian.
In 2007, Gillian spent three weeks traveling in Sri Lanka – a lush, green verdant jewel of an island. While traveling around its south coast, she was able to witness firsthand the area that bore much of the brunt of the 2004 tsunami. Signs of this horrific event are plentiful. Local and foreign aid continue to be on site, much property has been rebuilt, but large piles of rubble still remain and shells of what used to be solid brick houses stretch along the coast, a constant reminder of Nature’s wrath. 60,000 Sinhalese perished. The fishermen suffered greatly, countless lives lost and livelihoods wiped out – boats smashed like matchsticks.
A slide presentation of images shot in Bhutan generates proceeds towards defraying expenses surrounding the 12-year old daughter of a Bhutanese friend, diagnosed in 2008 with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. She and her parents have to travel four times each year from Bhutan to South India to undergo the treatment program Rosie so desperately needs.
In Gillian’s past is a decade spanning the 1970s and 1980s when she worked as an agent’s assistant in New York at International Creative Management, leading to freelance work with luminaries such as Dame Maggie Smith, Jeremy Irons, Tom Stoppard and the late Sir Laurence Olivier, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn.
Gillian’s interest in photography springs from when her late father, the chief executive of an industrial rubber company, gave her a Brownie 127 camera -the one with the orange button. Fast forward to the present day, she now works with two Nikon D80’s, one equipped with a zoom lens, the other with a wide-angle. “You miss the shot,” she explains, “if you start fumbling to change a lens.” Her approach is nothing more sophisticated than trying to combine all the elements you need to tell a good story. Gillian sticks with the fundamentals of portraiture, lighting, focus, color, contrast—and a natural and spontaneous connection with her subject.
Her images depict the culture and folklore of places like Bhutan, India, Mongolia, Thailand and Tibet, reflecting a palpable enchantment with the majesty of the Himalayas, the princely splendor of the palaces, the quixotic garb of the nomadic tribes on the edge of civilization, people who still live much the same way their ancestors did hundreds, even thousands of years ago. One reviewer has acclaimed her work as imbued “with the richness of her experiences.”
Gillian studies appear in private collections in the USA, Europe and India, and she also produces a line of greeting cards and post cards. In addition to commercial photography, as another sideline she offers herself as a caterer under the name “A Moveable Feast” and serves as photographer for Rowayton’s annual summer festival, Shakespeare on the Sound. Once the production is underway, Pinkney Park becomes Gillian’s studio. Aside from shooting the rich texture of what is unfolding onstage, she weaves through the crowd, looking for the exuberance of the children and the animated picnicking of an audience enthralled by the rhapsodic work of the world’s greatest English-language playwright. A photographer active in this area and familiar with Gillian’s work as photographer for Shakespeare on the Sound, says: “No one works harder to get the shots that fulfill the assignment.”
Of her travel photography, Gillian says, “Each of my journeys to this fragile region of our planet brings riches beyond compare. A kaleidoscope of gloriously colorful cultures and contrasts, myths and history, folklore and traditions. In 1897, Mark Twain described India as “the land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendor and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of a hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods…”. To me, South Asia is all of that. The awesome majesty of the mighty Himalaya; Tibet’s high plateaus, dotted with yaks and nomads; the lush green countryside and tranquil backwaters of Kerala; Rajasthan, state of princely palaces and the Thar desert; the mystique of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, and the tribes who live in their woodlands and hills; the “Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon”, Bhutan, steeped in Buddhism…a land of flora and fauna, monasteries and mountain streams, prayer flags and prayer wheels. On my travels, I am blessed to come to know the people of these regions - indigenous peoples, many of whom still live at one with their ancestors. Giggling, curious children surround me as I immerse myself in mystic cultures and delight in the richness of my experiences. In my images, I strive to capture the essence of these precious souls whom I meet along the way - each with their unique, distinct culture and customs. If, through my photography, I can bring to my viewers a sense of South Asia, its peoples and its culture, then my dream is fulfilled.”
Solo Exhibitions: Brendan's 101 Gallery, Rowayton, CT (February 2010); Gallery Lodoe: Asian Contemporary Art, Rhinebeck, NY (Aug.-Sept. 2009); Chocopologie, Norwalk, CT (Oct.-Nov. 2008); President's Choice, Greenwich Art Society, Greenwich, CT (July 2008); Bistro du Soleil, Norwalk, CT (Oct.-Nov. 2007); Rockwell Art & Framing, Westport, CT (June-July, 2006); The Bank of New York, Greenwich, CT (March-April, 2006)*; Fairfield County Bank, Rowayton, CT (Feb.-April, 2005); Cafe Bria, Stamford, CT (Feb.-April, 2005); Bistro du Soleil, Rowayton, CT (Oct.-Nov. 1997). (*sponsored by the Greenwich Art Society).
AWARDS IN PHOTOGRAPHY
INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY AWARDS - 2006: Three Honorable Mentions; 2005: Two Honorable Mentions
ART SOCIETY OF OLD GREENWICH, CT - Hon. Mention Photography: April 2009; Hon. Mention All Media: July 2008; Hon. Mention Color: Sept. 2007; 1st Place Color: April 2006; Hon. Mention Color: June 2004; 2nd Place Photography: April 2004; Hon. Mention Color: Nov. 2003; 1st Place Photography: Feb. 2003; Hon. Mention Color: Sept. 2002; 1st Place Color: June 2002; 1st Place Color: June 2002; 2nd Place Color: Sept. 2001; 1st Place Photography: Feb. 2001; Hon. Mention Color: July 2000; 1st Place Color: Feb.1999; Hon. Mention Color: Feb. 1998; Hon. Mention Color: Sept. 1997; 2nd Place Color: Jan.1996; 3rd Place B/W: Sept. 1995.
DARIEN ARTS CENTER, CT - 3rd Place Color: May 2008; 1st Place Color: June 2007; Hon. Mention Color: May 2005; 3rd Place Color: May 2003; 1st Place Color: June 2002; 1st Place Color: June 2001;
GREENWICH ART SOCIETY, CT - Hyatt Regency Award, All Media: February 2007; Art Society of Old Greenwich Award, All Media: March 2005; Honorable Mention, All Media: April 2005
NEW CANAAN SOCIETY FOR THE ARTS,CT - 2nd Place Professional Color: Jan. 2003; Hon. Mention Professional Color: Jan. 2000; 1st Place Color: Feb.1999; Hon. Mention B/W: Feb. 1996.
RIDGEFIELD GUILD OF ARTISTS, CT - Hon. Mention Color: Oct.1996
ROWAYTON ARTS CENTER, CT - 2nd Place Color: Aug. 2009; 1st Place Color: July 2009; Hon. Mention Color: May 2009; Hon. Mention Photography: July 2008; 3rd Place Color Photography: March 2007; 2nd Place Color: March 2006; 1st Place Color: August 2005; 2nd Place in All Media Show: June 2004; 1st Place Photography: July 2003; 2nd Place Color: June 2003; 1st Place Photography: May 2003; 2nd Place Color: March 2003; Hon. Mention in All Media Juried Show: Oct. 2001; 1st Place Color: May 2000; 1st Place Color: Oct. 1999; 2nd Place Color: June 1999; 1st Place B/W: Oct. 1998; 2nd Place Color: Oct. 1998; 1st Place Color: Aug. 1998; 2nd Place Color: Jan. 1997; 2nd Place Color: Oct. 1996; 2nd Place Color: Sept. 1996; 3rd Place Color: March 1996; 1st Place Color: July 1995; Hon. Mention Color: Nov. 1994; 3rd Place Color: Sept. 1994.