The Blog of John Walford, British-born, but long resident in The United States. I am a retired art historian, an amateur photographer, and occasional writer, who writes here about art, photography, and the human condition--some of it attempted ekphratic poetry, responding to works of art. This is to be a site for words and images, interacting on one another, as vehicles of human expression.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ahmad Kavousian's "Jipsy with J...", December 25, 2006, from his Set: "Face of the Voiceless"

Jipsy with J..., originally uploaded by * Ahmad Kavousian *.

"Jipsy with J..." taken on Christmas day, 2006, is just one of a set of (currently) 192 photographs by Ahmad Kavousian, from his set, "Face of the Voiceless." (See, in context: ). This Iranian-born, architect and photographer presents to us--with candor, and through a mastery of light and texture--the faces, and feelings of the street people of Vancouver. Please visit the entire set, ( ), which can be viewed as a slide-show. His images will surely move any feeling, human being.

As I ready myself to climb into my comfortable bed, I think of these men and women, to whom he introduces us, and I feel utterly hopeless in face of their plight.

But I also know that Ahmad's heart--perhaps spurred by his own geographic displacement--has found a means to open our hearts by way of his camera lens. In so doing, one more layer of callousness is peeled away, and out of hard sights, a measure of good will is stirred.

I have been studying these images of Ahmad Kavousian for now over a year, and I dedicate this little poem to this man of great humanity, and deep compassion, and to the Voiceless Ones to whom he has introduced us:

"Voice of the Voiceless Ones"

Where, how, when
Did each life take a turn
That led to the streets
As permanent home?

Each once a baby,
Held in arms,
Fed from a bottle,
Or from a warm breast.

When did that warmth
First turn cold?
When did the child,
First grow old?

Where was the mother,
The father, the brother,
When each came to that
Bleak cross-roads?

Why this one, not that,
Could the teacher have known,
That boy in the back row,
Would move out of the zone?

How can it be,
That one makes it good,
While one beside,
Lives in the hood?

What snaps in the mind?
What bends in the will?
What hostile forces,
Turn one so ill?

So what do we do,
With what we have seen?
Ahmad had the heart,
Going where I've not been!

I throw up my arms,
In utter dismay.
I'm helpless I know,
To face that way.

God grant those
Who are strong,
To redeem our wrong.
Please find some way!

Oh please! -- Find some way!

--John Walford, December 29, 2007.


  1. John, this is wonderful...Hope I deserve all you said about me and my work.
    Thank you for all support and encouragement.

  2. Ahmad: Thank you, my dear friend! It is you, who have enriched us all. I look forward to a yet-wider audience for your remarkable, and patient work, photographing, so carefully, so thoughtfully, the street peoples of Vancouver. John

  3. Ah John, you are right! Dear Ahmad takes in so much of the pain as well as the little shards of hope that have written themselves on the life-worn faces of the people he meets and gets to know on the streets. It is always an exchange he brings us in his works, something so direct and intimate that we feel some of what must be felt in "seeing" and being seen. Thank you John for marking it so well here with your fine words and your great heart.


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John Walford

John Walford
Not All That Meets The Eye

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I am a British-born, retired art historian, who taught in the USA; I studied law, in England,1964-68; worked part-time in the art world, 1968-69; then studied art history at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, 1969-76; completed my Ph.D. diss. at the University of Cambridge, 1981; moved to the States in 1981, and have since written, or co-authored, other books. My wife, Maria, was born in Milan, Italy, where she worked as an interpreter, in business; she spent seven years in Switzerland, at the University of Lausanne, 1963-70. She came to Amsterdam in 1971, and we soon married. She is a wife, mother, literary critic, of Italian (and French) literature, and completed her Ph. D. diss. in 2002, at the University of Chicago, on Cesare Pavese and His Critics. We have three married children, and twelve grandchildren, all of whom we excessively adore! I welcome dialog about art, photography, human behavior, beliefs, and motivation from all comers, regardless of race, color, gender, orientation, values, or beliefs. This is to be a site for words and images, as vehicles of human expression, around topics of mutual interest.

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