Oxford Dreaming…

Oxford's Gleaming Bicycles - 20th June 2017

Shafts of light on one of Oxford’s many bike parks.

A visit to The Ashmolean – the oldest university museum in the World, then to Keble College, to the Chapel –

Keble College Chapel - 20th June 2017

I love the way a passing cloud has cleverly disguised the projecting arm of the huge crane behind the Chapel.

– to stand before my favourite painting in the whole wide World – ‘The Light of the World’ by William Holman Hunt.

The Light of the World - Keble College Oxford. Tuesday 20th June 2017 (1)

The original version painted in 1853.

Version on my wall.

‘My’ version.  An old print of the original on my wall at home.

I was joined on the day, by old Oxonian – Professor Christopher Heywood – and my two lovely sons – Archie and Tom – or ‘The Oxford Party’ as the Professor referred to us collectively.

First portal on our agenda was The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology.    

The entrance door to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. My first dreaming portal...

The grand entrance at going home time – Tuesday 20th. June 2017 – the penultimate day before Summer Solstice.  Gosh what a scorcher of a day!  A day when my ‘expectations’ topped even Oxford’s dreaming spires – and the Mercury!  If I didn’t have this record – I’d think I’d dreamt the whole lot up!

A soaring column at the entrance to the Ashmolean.

A soaring column at the main entrance to the Ashmolean…

Blue sky over The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology 20th. June 2017

Yaffle and passing 'thought' cloud - probably Spinoza again...

Yaffle – and a passing ‘thought’ cloud – probably Spinoza again…

Together we enjoyed a long lunch in the rooftop restaurant before splitting into twos.  While the ‘boys’ went for a recce around Oxford’s shops – I accompanied Yaffle to his research meeting ‘behind closed doors’ with one of the Ashmolean’s conservators – Mr. Jevon Thistlewood – such a wonderful, evocative name – so Ashmolean!

WOW! It was such an unexpected gift – a privilege – to have gone beyond the ‘no access’ doorway.  Almost immediately – I was gobsmacked – (to use one of Yaffle’s Yorkshire expressions) because there resting on a laboratory bench I saw something undreamt;  a magical pair of ancient antlers from ‘The Ark’ of the Tradescants. 

The Tradescant Antlers in Jevon's conservation room - 20-06-2017 (4)I was riveted by them – by their form, their age and by the synchronicity of the situation; them ‘left out’ as I walked in!   I was even given permission to photograph them – ‘only’ the antlers mind – strictly not the laboratory interior. Whilst keeping my distance – I zoomed in to capture the remarkable label on the skullcap…The Tradescant Antlers in Jevon's conservation room - 20-06-2017 (2)The Tradescant Antlers in Jevon's conservation room - 20-06-2017 (3)

My collection of Red Deer Antlers

With thoughts of my other magic finds at home…

“Ashmole’s Antlers” (as Yaffle refers to them) lifted me ever higher – I was on cloud nine for the rest of day – and that was before seeing ‘The Light of the World’!

Cicero statue - Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology

“Everything is alive; everything is interconnected.” Cicero.

After exiting the excitement and magic of the conservation lab – Yaffle and I made our way downstairs to the foyer area of the Museum.  Here in the cool gallery – in the presence of Cicero – I left Yaffle to his own devices.  To his Apple Mac – and his Spinoza article in progress…
Back view - Yaffle in the Ashmolean 20th June 2017 (2)Yaffle (5) - Ashmolean Tuesday 20th June 2017Yaffle - Professor Christopher Heywood (1) - Ashmolean Tuesday 20th June 2017

Horse Chestnut - Lamb and Flag Passage (2) - Oxford 20th June 2017

Horse Chestnut - Lamb and Flag passage - OxfordI met up with my sons – and together we set-off for the Chapel. On the way – we enjoyed the dappled light of a huge Horse Chestnut situated in the ‘Lamb and Flag Passage’ – before continuing our purposeful march to Liddon Quad where the Chapel is. We passed under numerous gargoyles and lanterns too…Keble gargoylesLanterns - Keble College - Oxford

Glimpse of Keble College Chapel - 20th June 2017 (window detail)The Chapel is a place that everyone should discover for themselves – there are no words – no photos that can convey the visual impact of opening the mighty oak door and stepping inside the hallowed space of the main chapel.  On a blisteringly hot day outside – the quietness, the coolness – and contrasting darkness inside were thirst quenching to my every sense.

Finally – in the sanctuary side-chapel – I stood before ‘The Light of the World’.  Not intensified by internal and external light sources – the area of the painting that emanated the greatest luminosity appeared to me to be Christ’s chest.   Allegory aside – ‘The Light of the World’ is a clever painting because it works – it glows from within.  I’m so pleased that I had an opportunity to witness this manifestation for real. The Light of the World - Keble College Oxford - Tuesday 20th June 2017 (3)

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Elias Ashmole - Ashmolean Museum souvenir postcard and fridge magnet


The last six words of this post go to the Tradescants (Elder and Younger) and to Elias Ashmole himself.  I wish to acknowledge them in my own small way here – as an appreciation for their collecting mania – and therein – their vision that is the Ashmolean today; it is a treasure trove beyond compare. 

I want to go back to the Ashmolean again and again and again – a day just isn’t enough.  If I lived closer – I’d be through that grand portal every single day – except for Mondays (unless it’s a bank holiday)! 

Thank you Thank you Thank you.

Ashmolean welcome sign

One thought on “Oxford Dreaming…

  1. bravo dear YaffleA–a fine memento of a memorable day. Glad you found the Lamb & Flag route to Keble. Just what I had in mind but didn’t waffle about. Greetings, Christopher

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