The Blog of John Walford, British-born, but long resident in The United States. I am an art historian, currently studying satire in Netherlandish art, an amateur photographer, and occasional writer, who writes here about art, photography, and the human condition--some of it 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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Monday, December 17, 2012

Walford, (Ewan) John, & Maria Dellù, Wedding, Dec 16, 1972 (photo by Claudio Savignago)

Walford-Dellù - Forty Years On,
December 16, 2012

Separated by six years of war, sides, and more;
Separated by country, language, taste and culture;
Raised so differently, harsh town and country ease;
One faced so young into life’s severest challenges;
The other too long protected from its stormy blasts.
So separated, so different, so sure no chance to meet.

Who would have thought, could have guessed?
Who predicted that two such paths could cross?
Or in the crossing, either or anything be noticed?
Does even art, education, the thirst for knowledge
Usually bring two from so far, so close? Maybe!
But into a viable and lasting union – that’s rare!

Encounter! That’s a marvel! Attraction, a mystery!
In Amsterdam, famed ‘great arc of the refugees,’
There in Amsterdam, anything may seem possible!
In the sixties and seventies, there did pot abound,
And long-haired hippies by the shipload! – Us too!
But there was more to Amsterdam than hippies!

Young naval officer, in Nazi war-camp, finding faith,
Freed, returns home, studies, teaches theology and art.
Now there, in such miracle, a new story finds a start.
Drawn by whispers of ideas that set minds swimming,
Young disciples from odd places are thereto drawn,
And two young lives find fresh opening, just after dawn!

A chance encounter, after a long journey, breakfast
Bringing welcome renewal, warming body and soul.
Conversation that opens windows into seeking minds,
Finds concord, where concord unexpectedly resides.
God honors no divisions of class or culture! Truth shines
In radiant beauty, wherever it is received and cherished.

Forty years on! Yet two more countries later, together!
Children born, raised, loved and launched - released
To raise families of their own - From solitude, a tribe!
Many years of sharing stories, stories that give meaning
To the mystery of each couple’s path into deeper union,
Held together by some marvelous glue, the world calls love.
-- John Walford, for Maria Dellù, for forty December 16ths.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My own piece: "It Comes To This, Nov 2012"



It Comes To This, Nov 2012, originally uploaded by johnwalford.
"It Comes to This, Nov 2012"

Once it was all anticipation, a slight seed.
We keenly watched it becoming, itself.
Tossed in the wind, in the heat of the sun,
Glorious in its ripeness. Then came the Fall.
Hard to observe, it stalks up on us all;
Yet, finally, it comes down to this.

-- JW, on bidding farewell to a long-time colleague, Nov 15, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"The Way We Don't Yet See"

"The Way We Don't Yet See"

I walk this single, rutted path, alone.
Mist spares me seeing what awaits.
Trees and fences keep me on track,
Lest I would veer from my allotted path.
Dropping steeply before me,
It leads me.... I know not where.

-John Walford, for Boccacino, November 14, 2012, 
with gratitude, and loving affection. Please see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/boccacino/8184460767/

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Salomon van Ruysdael (1600-1670) - River View with a Chuch and Ferry. Detail. 1649. Bequest of Abraham Bredius, 1946. From 28 April 2012, around 100 highlights from the Mauritshuis collection are on display at the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, for a period of about two years.

This reminds me of the years I spent as a student of art history, living in Amsterdam. This is so beautifully photographed that it renders palpable all the best of what I remember of the landscapes of this generation of Dutch masters, and, I am ashamed to admit, it brings tears to my eyes - perhaps the feeling of not having seen - in such proximity - that which I came to love so deeply, for now too many years, living in The States. It brings back another world, which i long since left behind.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Flickr's dou_ble_you's "+!," 2012


+!, originally uploaded by dou_ble_you.

"Subliminal Message"

Tender expressions, left behind;
Passion, waiting to be embraced.

- JW, a salute for UU's careful eye, June 7th., 2012.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

John Walford, "The Dream of a Shadow," 2012


The Dream of a Shadow, 2012, originally uploaded by johnwalford.

My Flickr contact, Actaeon, provided this image of mine with a wonderful quote from Pindar, which, roughly translated from Actaeon's French reads thus:

"Ephemeral beings, who are we then?
Man is the dream of a shadow,
But when the gods direct, a beam
Of shining light surrounds him,
And his existence becomes sweet as honey."

--Pindar, his conclusion to An Ode for an Olympic victor.

Also translated thus:

Creatures of a day! What is a man?
What is he not? A dream of a shadow
Is our mortal being. But when there comes to men
A gleam of splendour given of heaven,
Then rests on them a light of glory
And blessed are their days. (Pythian 8)

As given in French by Actaeon:

"êtres éphémères, qui sommes nous donc ?
l'homme est le rêve d'une ombre
mais quand les dieux dirigent sur lui un rayon
une lumière brillante l'environne
et son existence devient douce comme le miel"

Pindare pour un Olympionique

Friday, May 11, 2012

john Walford, "Catch The Shadow," 2012


Catch The Shadow, 2012, originally uploaded by johnwalford.

"Catch the Shadow"

I once was, as you now are,
Reaching up, to catch the shadow.
Always, like rainbow's end,
Out of reach, but worth the striving.

-- JW, dedicated to my artist-friend,
Joel Sheesley,
on the occasion of the opening
of his Self-Portrait/Apocalypse
exhibition, May 9th, 2012.

Seen at a Retrospective of Self-Portraits - mostly within other works - by Joel Sheesley from ca. 1970-2012. Note: The Shadow is of the artist, and is actually painted onto the wall, as well as overlapping [ie. painted onto] the etching of himself from 1972.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

John Walford's photo "I flew! I chirped! I died a sudden death!" 2012

"When A Sparrow Falls to The Ground, 2012"

Once but a warm yolk encased in a fragile shell, from Spring’s winds by wound twigs protected. Mother’s fluffy underside kept us all warm; Father faithfully fed Mom, until we too all shrieked like hell. Mom and Dad faithfully dropped wiggly worms in our wide-open beaks, until we learned to fly and feed. Pushed from the nest, and now out on our own, I soon found shelter from Winter winds, under the eaves of an old, blue-gray house, in company with others like me, my cousins. We bickered.

None of us ever strayed far from our abode. We had no need to, food and drink we easily found. And then we grew up, and discovered a liking for each other. Now I found myself collecting twigs, even bits of old plastic, which handily kept out the wind. Soon we had our own little brood – just as it had always been, since time immemorial – or so the old birds told us. But we were surely prouder of our brood than any before us, and I worked hard to keep the nest secure, predators at bay, the Missus fed, and, soon after, as our fresh eggs hatched out, we fed all those new squeaky beaks too. I would set out into our leafy neighborhood, flipping from driveways to lawns, and into the woods, finding the best of morsels, to bring proudly back to the nest.

It was always the same routine, breakfast, lunchtime and supper, and each little one always wanted to be fed first, and finish last, and none seemed ever contented that I brought home enough. The only form of gratitude that I received back was six sets of beaks, falling contentedly asleep. Then it happened, flying low, I swooped down lower than usual, deceived by new glass, not yet soiled by time, and thinking the path before me wide open, I hear this dreadful thud. My neck buckled in an instant, I fell on my back, and as the last breath passed from me, I wondered, what will the Missus think when I don’t ever return? And what will befall our baby sparrows?

- John Walford, witness to the end, May 5th, 2012.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Flickr's Simon K's "Resurrection,'" Easter 2012


Resurrection, originally uploaded by Simon_K.

"Innocence Can Be Bliss"

Does the robin know on what s/he rests?
Has the robin tasted winter but once?
Has the robin yet faced the hard task
Of raising a family, and all that asks?

--JW, for Simon K, wishing you a blessed Easter, 2012!



This work, and Simon K's title for it, reminds me of an experience from years ago, when we were all in our twenties. I was at the bedside of the dying mother of a close friend, and she said to her two gathered children, and me, do not cry at my funeral, for I shall now be free, and singing like a bird. The funeral was on a dreary, wet, grey, November day, in England, and as we stood by the graveside, reciting the prayer of committal, the sun broke momentarily through the clouds, and a bird started singing and singing in the nearby yew tree. All three of us looked at each other, and as the hair tingled on our spines, a smile crossed all our faces.

Simon K's tender photograph brings all this to sweet remembrance. She was a lovely Christian lady, whose parents had been medical missionaries in China, at the turn of the last century. It is fitting to think of her again at Easter time.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Your Child's (Your Sibling's) Face Here - In Memoriam- Trayvon Martin, killed Feb 26 2012

PUT YOUR CHILD'S FACE UNDER THIS HOODIE, AND PLEASE - IN GOD'S NAME - PLEASE ACT ACCORDINGLY! America's conscience is still too calloused, and racism yet simmers close to the surface. It must be torn from all our hearts - every last shred of it - otherwise we all deserve to be humiliated to the same degree that whites have humiliated blacks these past two hundred years, and more. IT'S MORE THAN ENOUGH! It's a shame on our claim to humanity, to dignity, to the innate value of each individual. And we talk of a free country! For many, yes! For black youth... ?

The Jewish holocaust is quickly and easily condemned, by almost unanimous consent. But what of the daily humiliation and personal insecurity of young blacks in America, and what of the suffering of all American families of color, who sense that they have to watch their backs wherever they walk, in whatever store they enter, and always watch whites watching them warily. And the justice system, what does it do? By default, it lets this shameful state of affairs go on, for, assuredly, there is too much else on their hands......

So look hard in this now-deceased boy's eyes, see the face and eyes of your child, or your sibling, under that hoodie instead, and in the name of God, Creator of us all, live a life of love, compassion, and mercy towards all! After all, that is how humanity is called to act, and it is not beyond us, if we summon the will and the resolve.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Incarnational Candle, 2011


Incarnational Candle, 2011, originally uploaded by johnwalford.

Incarnational Candle

When lived the world in heavy darkness,
Long waiting the Messiah in perpetuity,
Hopes faint, the wait beyond credulity,
Burst on Bethlehem a great Brightness.

When we, in shadow of our home,
See shadows cast by light, one alone,
Look to that One, single bright beam,
The greatest wonder ever to be seen.

-- John Walford, for John & Betty Gouch,
With affection, February 9th, 2012.

Photo: “Incarnational Candle,” 2011
© Walford Photography & Graphic Arts

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Flickr's Bruiach/ Colin Campbell's "Talmine Bay Wreckage Jan 27thSutherland"

"Silent Accusation"

Speak not to me of what went wrong.
Recall not the long struggle to survive.
Make no mention of gusts too strong.
Nor the shame, only one came out alive.

Speak not to me of that battle for the oars,
Nor mention the mishandling of the tiller.
Responsibility for all was only yours,
Abandoned, my naked ribs expose the killer.

-- JW, for Bruiach/Colin Campbell, in appreciation for an ageless, yet haunting image., February 8th, 2012.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Great Fall - Loss, Pain & Grief, 2012

When our forebears to disobey did choose,
God knew full well the great gifts they would lose.
The grim reaper would soon sharpen his scythe,
And no living being would last alive.
-- JW, January 19, 2012.

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I am a British-born, art historian, teaching 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. I am currently studying satire in Netherlandish art. 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 eight 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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