Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Life and Death of Robin Taudevin

Born on the 14th of March, 1977, in Bouganville, Papua New Guinea, Robin lived a life defined by travel, international affairs, human rights, extreme sports, and photography. His most distinctive characteristic, aside from his riotously wicked sense of humour, was his clear understanding of right and wrong and his deep seated desire to expose social injustice.

Robin went to school at the British and Jakarta International schools in Indonesia and spent two years at St. Peters in Brisbane, Australia. He qualified for his glider’s license at 16. After high school, Robin spent time working with his father, Lansell Taudevin, for AusAid in East Timor. Robin read history, archaeology (and skydiving!) at Glasgow University. He spent a year’s exchange at Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina, so that he could be near a cheap drop zone and to get his pilot’s license.

As a young graduate, Robin used his inheritance from his Isle of Lewis grandfather to work as a volunteer in Guatemala. While in Central America, Robin was ejected from a US embassy for sliding down the bannister and when asked to explain his actions he replied “they were irrisistable.”

Timor Aid then employed Robin and he returned to East Timor. Robin worked in sustainable development for many international aid organisations and was regularly employed by the United Nations. He also spent some time working as an editor for his father’s publishing company, Otford Press, which focussed on human rights issues.

Robin worked as an independent photographer in West Papua, the Maluccas, Banda Aceh in Sumatra, Jakarta, Sydney, Glasgow and East Timor. Robin had a clear vision to use his photography to inform, inspire and bridge the gap between one island of suffering to the next. In the last year of his life he made a huge impact with his photographic work of Glasgow asylum seekers. He returned to East Timor to be with his partner, Bree and in the last two weeks of his life he proved his fearless desire to expose social injustice by photographing the Dili riots up close and personal.

Robin's thirst for extreme sports, I feel, was a need to escape the confines of his body; to challenge it in ever new ways, be it skydiving, base jumping, gliding, flying, long distance running, rock climbing, free diving. I think he always had a sense that he was so much bigger than his body. And he has proved that to be so.
Robin drowned while freediving off the coast of East Timor on the 14th of May 2006. When he had arrived in East Timor as a young man starting his first job he was known as Lansell’s son. When Lansell returned for Robin’s cremation he was recognised as Robin’s father. Robin died a young man, internationally respected as an individual of high moral standing and an accomplished photographer.

We must remember that he died in a place that he loved, with the woman that he loved, doing what he loved and doing it well. He lived a full life and accomplished more than most will with thrice his years under their belts.


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