James’ Brand New Blog

In memoriam: John Tamblyn

- August 9th, 2012

Embassy Hotel circa 1990 Photo John Tamblyn

Embassy Hotel circa 1990 Photo by John Tamblyn. Courtesy of Museum London.

II-73-JohnTamblynTrain

Train image by John Tamblyn from a recent exhibition at The Arts Project.

My thoughts & prayers are with the family & friends of photographer & great Londoner John Tamblyn. John died while on a canoe trip in the North Bay area on Tuesday. He was 64.

John & Mary Sue Brennan were our neighbours when we lived on Piccadilly Street . . . the Tamblyns’ twin daughters, Zoe & Emma, were classmates of our daughter at St. George’s public school. Some of the most charming photos of our daughter are John’s, taken casually when the kids were playing together. Recently, John came to our home to take photos of three of my father’s paintings — they were to go into a book another friend was writing. John talked about how his father had built our house and others in Sherwood Forest 50 years ago. It took him and his partner a year to build each house.

John was a brilliant photographer, a skilled craftsman like his dad. The distinguished image of the old Embassy Hotel here provides the cover of the catalogue for the new Museum London exhibition on the Embassy Culture House. He worked often on Museum London projects, providing a record of art & artifacts & the people who created & celebrated them.

The second image is from a marvellous exhibition John shared with his niece, London artist Diana Tamblyn, at The Arts Project.  In that exhibition, his focus was on the graffiti sprayed on the train cars that constantly pass through London on both the CN and CPR lines.

A service for John Tamblyn will be held Wednesday at Museum London from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Still in shock as I write this, in my mind’s eye I see John with his engaging smile & thoughtful talk about whatever project he was pursuing . . . or just about the pleasures of life here.

 

Categories: Entertainment

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14 comments

  1. Andrew Smyth says:

    this is such a shock. John really was such a special man. He was probably one of the best conversationalists I have ever known. I certainly don’t regret any talks we had together and will remember him with deep fondness.

  2. Jamelie Hassan says:

    Thank you for writing such a heart felt and personal tribute to John Tamblyn, my long time friend. I too am in shock & grief. John was a kind & generous friend to many – he was always willing to run over to where ever my work was exhibited to document it.

    We shared a long history with him and his family. John started doing art photography with me in the late 1970’s –
    I am close to his wife, Mary Sue, (whose family used to own one of London’s former artist hang-outs
    the London House Hotel) and their twin daughters, Zoe & Emma – my heart goes out to Mary Sue, Emma & Zoe, their family & friends as we all try to come to terms with this abrupt and painful loss.

    John was so pleased that his own photographic work is exhibited in the Embassy Cultural House exhibit
    at Museum London and his photograph of the Embassy Hotel is on the cover of the publication.
    John will be hugely missed by so many of us.

    Jamelie Hassan, London, ON

  3. Ron Benner says:

    Thanks James for your In Memoriam for John. He was such a good friend. As I write these words I am looking at the calender that John would produce every new year with the help of his daughters Emma and Zoe. He began making these calenders when Emma and Zoe were born. The month of January always begins with a photograph of the twins. The photograph for August 2012 is of a northern Ontario landscape which John took when he was probably on one of his canoe trips. I have always treasured these calenders. In a little while I will be walking over to give my condolenses to Mary Sue, Emma and Zoe and to offer my support. It is only a block away but everything at the moment seems like it is in slow motion and it will feel like miles. See you at Museum London on Wednesday. Ron Benner.

  4. Matthew Teitelbaum says:

    Thinking of John with great admiration and personal fondness. He got content, he felt relationships and he understood talent. He admired those who, like him, cared about what they did and the effect they had on others. Three words? Generous, thoughtful, connected. That’s what made him the person he was, and the photographer he was. He took photos of our wedding in 1987. They are filled with evidence of an empathetic eye. I wish I could give him a hug and say that to him. Your sentiments are so very well expressed James, and so resonant and evocative.

  5. These are wonderful memories and comments. Please note that for further information, the obituary is now up here:
    http://www.harrisfuneralhome.ca/obits.php?id=1136

  6. Mary Lake Collins says:

    A very thoughtful memoriam James, many thanks. Robert and I were shocked and saddened to hear of John’s untimely death. I will certainly treasure the class photo, with us both in it, from the grade 1 & 2 class at Ryerson Annex, 1955. His passing is a great loss for his family. friends & London’s arts community. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mary Sue, Emma and Zoe.
    Mary Lake Collins

  7. Our meetings with John over the years have been few but we always parted feeling as if we had been with a close friend. Some people connect easily and immediately with others and John was one of those. We played golf a few times together the way golf should be played – with good conversation and relaxed enjoyment of the day. We also worked together on “The River Project” a few years ago giving me the privilege of seeing John’s professional side. Our prayers are with John’s family, especially our neighbour Louise and my former student Diana.

  8. You described the John Tamblyn I knew perfectly. John was our first customer 30 years ago and a source of
    wisdom and entertainment as well as a great friend ever since. His passing leaves a void that will be
    impossible to fill. Our sincerest condolences go to Mary Sue, Emma and Zoe.

  9. Kevin and Sylvia Curtis-Norcross says:

    Sylvia and I are shocked and saddened by the news. John seemed to have a place in every community in London, and where ever we met he had time, stories, insights and conversation to share. He created a community of his own defining and it is hard to imagine not greeting him at the next art opening.
    I always respected his skill at photography – he understood light so well. At every meeting he spoke about his family, and always with such warmth. He carried them with him.
    Our thoughts go out to his family, and friends.

  10. Hamoody Hassan says:

    I just received this very sad news. John was a great friend to so many diverse people. I admired him and his warm family. A fond memory I have is the day we gathered in honour of my sister Jamelie at the Civic Garden Centre. As he herded us Hassans into a group photo, I took pictures of John while he was doing it, just for fun. John’s ever present contagious smile reflects on each person in that group photo. Thanks James for putting the feelings of many of us into words. John will be missed. My sincere condolences to the girls in his life are not adequate to the measure of the man- a father, husband, brother and uncle and a really nice friend.

  11. Kim Moodie says:

    Thank you James for your article. My wife Terry and I just returned today from Parry Sound and reading the paper I found the news of John’s passing. We were shocked and deeply saddened. John was a friend for thirty years, he photographed a great deal of my art work and took family photos of us after the birth of our daughter. I always depended on John for grant applications and images for catologues and if he felt there were issues with images he always fixed them. When he came by we had great conversations about art, artists , politics, sports, his trips, and our respective families. The photo shoots always went way beyond time and when he left I always felt happy, a smile on my face. We had lots of similar conversations at openings, it always was fun to talk to him, what a great, great guy. Our deepest condolences to his wife Mary Sue and daughters Emma and Zoe. John will be greatly missed by the London arts community and us personally.

  12. Larry Russell & Tamelynda Lux says:

    We extend our sincere condolences to John’s family. We just met John in Nov/2011. A truly gifted photographer and friend.

  13. Betsy Reilly says:

    Thank you, James, for such a touching article. John and Mary Sue are a sweet part of the St. George’s experience. By having Emma and Zoe in my class, I had the good fortune to meet John and Mary Sue. Our last discussion together was during a ceremony at Western, where he was photographing my daughter, and he spoke of his cherished daughters. My deepest sympathy.

  14. Sam Hassan says:

    It is deep sorrow that I learned of John’s sojourn to the protection of his angels.

    John recently assisted in a submission of a portrait of my mother done by London artist Peter Lam to the Kingston Prize competition.

    His personal commitment to the arts community was boundless, and often sensitive to the challenges that artists must face in a world of hectic deadlines.

    The photo work that he did for our project was perfect and on time thankfully to him very affordable.

    John, it seemed to me, would always go the extra mile (or two) for anyone. He loved us all.

    A truely remarkable man of our time.

    Sam and Susan.

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