"Yesterday, I was gently reminded how both 'a hidden gem' and 'a wolf in sheep's clothing' present themselves often to us in everyday life. Those of you who read my morning posts will be aware of my daily attempt to match my prevailing thoughts to my words and my words, seemlessly, to a chosen image. Those of you who know me and have visited my home will know of my love for all manner of paintings, both old and modern. I thank God, that Sheila doesn't object to me filling every inch of wall space in our home and enables me to indulge in a long held hobby.
For most of my first fifty years of life, being an avid reader, I never felt comfortable in my house surroundings without having copious books around me. Over the years, I developed the practice of acquiring very old books and would spend hours in dusty old bookshops searching for some hidden gem. By 'hidden gem', I don't necessarily mean some priceless book of antiquity which would allow me to give up my job and move house to the French Riviera, but some old book which contained some detailed information that I couldn't find anywhere else and which no modern-day book would contain.
Over the past twenty years, after I had started writing and had started to get my books published, I became fascinated with imagery in general. As a 'Behaviourist' during the last thirty years of my working life, and a relaxation devotee since the age of twelve, I grew to understand the importance of image in all that we think, say and do. It was therefore a natural progression of my own development that I grew to love paintings more and more.
Today, because of the nature of my terminal illness (having no effective immune system to fend off regular infections), my life is dogged with a chest infection or a bout of pneumonia, one after the other, sometimes lasting anywhere up to six months at a time before they clear. During such times, I become housebound. I can accept the fact that my body will lose its shadow sometime in the not too distant future,but having got to where I am today, if the remainder of my life is to contend with an array of illnesses and conditions that keep me mostly housebound, then I intend to live in comfort for the rest of my life. Hence I choose to be surrounded by beautiful books, images, paintings and people in my life that make me feel good to be alive day after day! And all of you who have met my wife Sheila, will know her as the most beautiful image in my life, my Dorian Gray of angelic vision.
Around six months ago, while rummaging around an old antique shop, in the dustiest of corners, I came across two Victorian portraits, painted in oils. I took my find to be what is commonly known as a 'sleeper'; a thing of significant value and worth, and which, to the general eye, appears to be of no particular significance at all. After some hard negotiation, I purchased both Victorian works for £170. Now, anyone who knows a bit about art, will know that most accomplished Victorian portrait paintings in oil and good condition, are unlikely to be bought for less than £1000. So, I reckoned that after I'd taken them to an expert art cleaner and restorer whom I have used for a number of years, and had them cleaned for approximately £500 and the frames touched up, I would have two beautiful Victorian portrait paintings in perfect condition, of at least £2,000 value.
So,yesterday morning, I went to Harrogate with my two paintings to get my expert's opinion on them. My journey proved very educational. With regard to my oil painting purchases, I discovered that my two quickly became one. One painting of a Victorian lady that was in a very expensive Victorian frame, was in fact a painted photograph; something that vain, wealthy Victorians would often commissioned at the time when they possessed a photograph, the exact image that they wanted, and which could not be reproduced by the brush and palette of any artist from scratch. I'm so glad that the frame surrounding it was in was said to be worth £500; an amount which was more than the £170 I originally paid for both paintings. The second Victorian portrait painting of an elderly gentleman turned out to be the the real McCoy. It had been painted by a highly skilled artist, but unfortunately it was without a signature. The expert assessed this painting to be worth well in excess of £1000. I decided there and then to have the genuine Victorian portrait painting of the elderly gentleman professionally cleaned and put in the very expensive frame, thus making a very significant 'one' out of my original two purchases.
When I think about it, we humans aren't all that different! Many of us go through our lives as con artists and tricksters, pretending to be what we are not: professing to have done things, gone places and met people we have never known. Some will pretend to be your friend, then, at the first sign of trouble or inconvenience when you need their support, they'll shoot off as fast as a rabbit down a bolt hole! All men and women do not court or marry out of love for the other person. Although sometimes, love may be profusely expressed, it can be the other person's money, their fame or the lifestyle they offer that is truly wanted! The world is full of 'wolves in sheep's clothing.'
On the other side there are those people whom I call the 'hidden gems.' Occasionally, such priceless pearls may be dressed in rags and appear no more valuable a person than their image portrays. Yet, beneath their clothes, under their skin and deep within them, is hidden the greatest treasure known to mankind; genuine goodness, unqualified love, honesty, humility, pride, faithfulness, dignity, respect for others, compassion, openness of expression; an authentic need to feel spiritually fulfilled and the want to be needed in return. When one person in search of a lifelong soul mate, finds the one they seek, the two people become the most beautiful couple you have ever seen! Anyone who tells you that 'two into one is only half,' doesn't understand the wholesome nature of good people, besides knowing very little about art!" William Forde: October 4th, 2016.