"The world is such a hard-edged place. I don't want to lose the soft part, the child in me." -- Charles van Sandwyk to journalist Daniel Wood.

At age 19, Charles van Sandwyk left Vancouver in 1986 and travelled alone to the South Pacific where he found refuge on tiny Tavewa Island, eight hours by boat from Fiji's main island of Viti Levu, with a population of 38 people. It was the start of his career as a visual artist and author. Born in South Africa in 1966, van Sandwyk had immigrated to North Vancouver at age eleven. As the son of a graphic designer, he had studied art at Capilano College, developing his interest in etching. Inspired by the surroundings and people of Tavewa Island, van Sandwyck, as the first white resident of Tavewa since 1926, spent six to eight months per year on the island, making his fanciful drawings and adding narratives to them, and spent the rest of each year in Deep Cove, slowly building his reputation among gallery owners by exhibiting at Tigers Cafe on Granville Street. As his work became collectible, he published books of his fantastical illustrations in conjunction with his exhibits. Van Sandwyk's How To See Fairies is a 'fairy gift box' with notecards, a poster, a bookmark and a journal. Ostensibly a guide to finding fairies, its whimsical and detailed combination of art and writing can be compared to the literary design works of Nick Bantock. The Folio Society commissioned van Sandwyk to supply new illustrations for The Blue Fairy Book (2003) as well as The Wind in the Willows (2005).


The Parade to Paradise (Summerwild Productions/Raincoast, 1992)

Van Sandwyk's Bird & Bee Band (Self-published, 1994)

Animal Wisdom (North Vancouver: Self-published, 1999

How To See Fairies: A Fair Gift Box (Raincoast, 1999).

The Gnome King's Treasure Song (Vancouver: The Fairy Press, 2000).

The Fairies' Christmas (The Fairy Press, 2001).

The Painter Mouse Presents the Meaning of Mice (The Fairy Press, 2002)

Affairs of the Heart (North Vancouver: Self-published, 2003)

The Blue Fairy Book (London: The Folio Society, 2003). Edited by Andrew Lang.

Mr. Rabbit's Christmas Wish (North Vancouver: CVS Fine Arts, 2004).

Sketches from the Dream Island of Birds (North Vancouver: 2005)

Grahame, Kenneth. The Wind in the Willows (London: The Folio Society, 2005). Illustrated by Charles Van Sandwyk.

[BCBW 2005] "Art" "Illustration"