"Never before have I threatened you with 'seeing the back of me,' but I do so now. Fear not, however, as I speak not of my pending demise, but of a recently painted portrait of me by Haworth artist, George Bowden.
George is a very accomplished artist who, with his wife, owns 'Wutherin' Arts' on the Main Street, Haworth. After coming across a photograph of me looking over a country fence in Dingle, Ireland, whilst on holiday there in 2015, George was intrigued. On the day in question, Sheila, me and my daughter, Rebecca, had spent a lovely relaxing day in gorgeous sunshine. At the end of the day before returning to our holiday cottage, I felt so happy and content with the day we'd just had that I parked my body on an old gate and peacefully took in the image of the sea ahead. For a full five minutes, my mind was blank and I hadn't a care in the world as I gazed at the wonderful sight. Though my terminal illness decreed that my body was dying, I never felt more alive to the beauty of God's earth.
Whenever an artist seeks to capture the essence of their human subject’s character, they tend to see it in the subject’s face or some other frontal feature. Rarely can it be seen from a rear view in which all thought and mood are invisible. To view the subject from behind is tantamount to attempting to accurately discover an appreciation of their woven life tapestry from bone formation and stance alone.
Without knowing little about my background history, George could discern the essence of my character without any facial feature on display. What the eye of the artist could see was the true definition of character and the physical pain endured by myself since being run over by a large lorry at the age of 11 years, almost dying and being unable to walk again for three years whilst being told I'd never walk again. I emerged from hospital with one leg shorter than the other and with a misshapen and somewhat lopsided body stance, having had over fifty operations on my legs to straighten them out. George could view and capture the past pain of sixty years through the crumpled image of the way that my clothes sympathetically hung around me.
Through his painting, George has managed to convey the crooked shape of my body and my unique slanted stance of relaxation. While the original picture now proudly hangs in my home on my lounge wall, copies of it have been produced as greeting cards that I will use forevermore at birthdays and Christmas time. As for the portrait, I'm thrilled to bits!" William Forde: September 16th, 2017.