Selections to be published in 2015 as WRATH, RUIN AND A RED NIGHTFALL: The Art of John Cockshaw by Oloris Publishing.

Welcome to the blog and this collection of original artwork inspired by The Lord of the Rings and J.R.R Tolkien's wider mythology of Middle-earth. Aside from the influence of the source writing of Tolkien influence is also drawn from Director Peter Jackson's film trilogy (2001-2003) and the highly regarded Tolkien illustrators Alan Lee and John Howe. The magnificent musical score written for the film trilogy by Howard Shore also holds a significant influence upon the atmospheric and evocative quality of the works in this collection. From Mordor to the Misty Mountains combines landscape, miniature-scale and composite photography to depict locations, dramatic scenes and characters from the enduringly popular stories.


PLEASE NOTE: This blog showcases Artwork (completed and in progress) and related exhibition news. There is NO option to purchase Art through this site at this time. Please visit from time to time as this may well change soon.

Copyright of all images belongs to John A Cockshaw


Evil in the Shining Light: Exhibition video

Exhibition video for the JRR Tolkien-inspired show that opens in a little over three weeks.  Inspired artists and writers on show and lots of thought-provoking content.


The Great Music and The Flame Imperishable

A short video taking inspiration from JRR Tolkien's THE SILMARILLION with specific focus on the early  parts of AinulindalĂ« (Music of Ainur).  The focus is very much on visual representations of music, harmony, cosmic growth and the the beginning of the universe and precedes any personification of the Ainur or the pivotal discord.


EVIL IN THE SHINING LIGHT: Exhibition announcement for September 2015

The latest exhibition event I'm not only involved with but coordinating and curating got a great announcement recently here on  The full press release, details and announcement video feature on this website and is presented very nicely (defeating the purpose of repeating it here).

Needless to say this upcoming project is something I'm very proud of and excited about!  Watch this space! 


Release announcement for July 2016: The Road, Taken

I'm very thrilled to post via Oloris Publishing the following announcement:

RELEASE ANNOUNCEMENT: We are very honoured to announce that "The Road, Taken" by Janet Alvarez will be released on July 2nd, 2015! This collection is beautifully evocative and emotional, taking the reader on the fundamental journey of the hero. The deep, rich artistry of John Cockshaw / FineArtist accompanies Janet's poetry in a stunningly beautiful illustrated volume. A pre-order page will be available in May.

Illustrating and providing imagery for Janet's excellent poetry has been a rewarding experience over the past year and given that much of it is inspired by Middle-earth has allowed it to connect very well with the artwork produced and showcased on this blog.  This will not be the only book release I am attached to being released in July so I look forward to another imminent announcement soon.

The following link to the video below offers a glimpse of the Artwork accompanying the release of Janet's book featuring my readings of the poetry accompanying the imagery.  Enjoy!


New work update: The Ascent of Darkness

Vision of the Tower of Evil

Voics from the Throat of the Night

Journey To The Cross-Roads...

An update here has been due for some time and the lack of one has been down to the moving of all things Art-wise in many directions (which I will explain) but also many roads that have been winding away simultaneously are now near to converging at the same spot.  I do love speaking in riddles...but this is all to say that things are kicking into gear for the coming summer months.  I'm weathering for an exciting time ahead.  July in particular.  But more on that later.  Soon.  Hopefully.

March 25th, as usually falls on the Tolkienist's calendar, is Tolkien Reading Day and once again I had the pleasure of having a piece of artwork featured on Mechtild's LiveJournal in a post commemorating this anniversary featuring two poems by the excellent poet Janet Nelson-Alvarez.  Many thanks to Linda Bachman and Janet Alvarez for this second opportunity to mark this date on the Tolkien calendar in such a great way.

As a slight departure from my JRR Tolkien-inspired work I had the great fortune of being interviewed with Writer Robert S. Malan on a collaborative video project that we've entered into a select handful of Film Festivals during 2015.  The Sign of the Shining Beast is a 12 minute short with strong Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Art Film influences and presents an enigmatic and unsettling meditation on dreams, vision and prophecy.

The interview here was featured as a cover story on the launch date for a brand new Arts/Fandom/Genre website  Rob and myself are embarking on further exciting collaborative work that will be touched upon here from time to time also.


Art and the Music of LOTR (A feature in FILM SCORE MONTHLY ONLINE) Part 2 of 2

The February issue of FSMO (Film Score Monthly Online) recently featured the concluding part of my ambitious illustrated article on Howard Shore's epic scores for The Lord of the Rings (including aspects of The Hobbit) films.  As mentioned in the previous post concerning Part 1 the article makes substantial reference to the work of Author, Musician and Musicologist Doug Adams' excellent analysis of Shore's music as featured in his 2010 book The Music of the Lord of the Rings Films (indeed follow Adams' related blog musicoflotr for more information).  The rationale and aim of the article was to respond artistically to Howard Shore's elaborately constructed Middle-earth scores via the illuminating analysis that Adams provides.  What this involved specifically for the artwork was substantial inspiration taken from the storytelling devices alive in Shore's music and the interpretation of masterful musical constructs (often coded musical references concealed or implied in the artwork through imagery and/or title).

As the online magazine is subscription only the article cannot be linked to here but please enjoy a series of specially selected screenshots of the final article in this blog post and remember that an earlier prelude to this article can be found on this very blog from June 2014 here.

The Lord of the Rings: Art for Ascension, Decline and Evil Times Part 2 by  John Cockshaw

(Many thanks to Managing Editor of FSMO Kristen Romanelli for her support and interest in the piece during its development)

A Very Yorkshire Hobbit: Artist/Curator Interview on the BBC. January 2015

One month ago the exhibition "Now Far Ahead The Road Has Gone: An Exhibition of Art Inspired by the Works of JRR Tolkien" came to a close in North Yorkshire with a very successful run from Mid-December til the end of January.  A wide range of visitors marched to see the show from across the county, nationwide and, delightfully, some international visitors too.  Verbal and written comments alike congratulated the mix of artwork content and style concerning my own work, Kat (Gugulska) and Ted's (Nasmith).

A particular highlight was an interview for the regional BBC News bulletin just before Christmas on Saturday 20th December and which aired on Friday 2nd Jan (lunchtime and evening) and again on Friday 9th January. Whilst I do possess an official copy of the broadcast from the BBC I'm unable to publish it here. These screenshots from the bulletin provide a great overview of the news feature titled 'Yorkshire Hobbit' and the emphasis was very much on myself as the local artist and exhibition coordinator/curator.

With thanks to Video Journalist Philip Chapman of the BBC


Art and the Music of LOTR (A feature in FILM SCORE MONTHLY ONLINE) Part 1 of 2

This announcement comes with great excitement and pride (and can now be revealed after a few months working quietly behind the scenes on it):

LOTR-focused Cover of December 2014 Issue of FSMO 
is an illustrated article created exclusively for Film Score Monthly Online (FSMO) the film music industry's premier magazine.  In two parts, it offers a body of original art inspired specifically by Howard Shore's soaring, magisterial film score for The Lord of the Rings (taken as a three-part operatic whole) as a distinct telling of JRR Tolkien's masterpiece on its own merits despite its functional and inseparable ties to Peter Jackson's cinematic adaptations.  

Screenshot of Page 1 of Article in FSMO

The art pieces also make reference to The Hobbit film scores as heard so far at the time of writing the article (between June-September 2014).

Inspiration is taken jointly from Shore's music and author/musicologist Doug Adams' excellent analysis of Shore's musical construction and thematic world building.  Adams' intelligent work on the LOTR scores ignited my interest to such a degree that creating art as a response was a fascinating prospect.

How exactly do you create art that acknowledges a film score?  How does the art keep its own originality and avoid resembling the films the music accompanies, whilst somehow acknowledging them?  Interesting challenges to face to be sure and part of the motivation to set myself the task.

FSMO is a subscription-only publication and as such the article cannot be linked to here but the cover image and screenshot of my article is included to present a taster.  It is beyond fantastic to get content included here in this issue that puts a focus on Shore and Middle-earth, with the cover feature being an item where Doug Adams and Howard Shore wrap up the LOTR journey.

My thanks go to Kristen Romanelli and the editorial team of Film Score Monthly Online, Doug Adams and Howard Shore for the invaluable source material that provided my reference and inspiration.


EXHIBITION REPORT: The opening of "Now Far Ahead The Road Has Gone"

First mention in this post is a huge "Thank-you" to Artist Joe Gilronan and Legendarium Media who kindly put forward the idea of an interview and feature linked to the upcoming exhibition of mine and it was a pleasure for it to go live on Tuesday 8th December.
Legendarium website banner
The excellent piece can be read here.

Friday 12th December 2014 was the UK nationwide release date in cinemas of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and coincided with the opening preview of the exhibition Now Far Ahead The Road Has Gone: An Exhibition of Art Inspired by the Works of JRR Tolkien at the North Yorkshire venue of the Curzon chain of Arts Cinema; Curzon Ripon.

This venue is unique in its possession of a dedicated exhibition space and it was a great pleasure to put on the show as a display of three artists work each with a distinctive use of medium and approach to visualizing JRR Tolkien's vision of Middle-earth; myself, Ted Nasmith and Katarzyna Chmiel-Gugulska.

 The preview was well attended and received great feedback - catching the discerning Art lovers as well as the passing cinema crowds in and out of the screenings.  It was a privilege to be able to bring together the contacts and resources to mount the exhibition at this most well-timed release and have a celebration of all things Tolkien and Middle-earth in my home city of Ripon, North Yorkshire.  

I had the good fortune too to have the Mayor and Mayoress in attendance, along with lots of interested locals and members of Ripon's art community.  Also unique to the exhibition was the addition of promotional materials from Oloris Publishing for a range of their current and future Art and Middle-earth inspired releases.  Artist Jenny Dolfen also sent some postcards across for display and exhibition notes came courtesy of Archaeologist Shaun Richardson and Curator Becky Dillon.

A selection of photos of the work on show at the exhibition including the preview appear below:

Exhibition curated by Artist John Cockshaw


VIDEO: Tolkien-inspired exhibition: Now Far Ahead The Road Has Gone

This video promo offers a glimpse at the artwork to be shown at December's exhibition...and as a bonus you get to hear yours truly give his best vocal impression of Smaug the Magnificent, Smaug the unassessably wealthy!!

Be sure to view at 1080p HD (or 720p if you're scared of dragons)


IN THE NEWS: Now Far near ahead

The progression towards my first curated show is near complete and almost two-weeks away until opening preview night.

I was thrilled also that also posted a news item here on their website 20/11/14

Thanks also to The Northern Echo for the coverage on their online page here and The Tolkien Society website for the event listing on their website.


Now far ahead the road has gone...

It's been a very busy number of weeks recently in preparation for this upcoming show in my home city of Ripon, North Yorkshire.  The exhibition, I'm proud to say, will be the fruit of lots of hard work, tricky logistics and spades of enthusiasm.  Accompanying my own art will be the renowned Tolkien Artist Ted Nasmith and excellent graphite artist Katarzyna Chmiel-Gugulska.

Hosted at the luxury Art Cinema venue Curzon Ripon the exhibition will run over December and January with a preview on Friday 12th December from 7pm to 9pm.  It will quite nicely also tie in with the screenings of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.  The main aim of the exhibition will be to provide a thought-provoking exploration of Tolkien's Middle-earth through distinct interpretations.

My thanks go to friend and curator Becky Dillon for guidance on exhibition planning and for facilitating the introductions with the artists and agents.

The full PRESS RELEASE was posted recently in the Arts section of The Yorkshire Times and a great feature story written by Lily Milos over at Middle-earth news.

Pre-release poster of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies at Curzon Ripon


Artist talk and exhibition in Oxford with The Tolkien Society

Artist talk: From Mordor to the Misty Mountains. Sat 13th September

This weekend (Saturday 13th September) I had the pleasure of giving a presentation on my Tolkien-inspired artwork at The Tolkien Society's annual meet in Oxford.  Oxonmoot took place in the beautiful surroundings of Lady Margaret Hall, one of the colleges of Oxford University.  The presentation touched on many aspects of my artwork and detailed a large amount of the thinking behind it and influences upon it.

It was also the chance to preview a couple of new works in progress at the end, despite running out of time to include all the content I'd prepared.  Overall it was a fantastic experience and I also had the chance to exhibit again as last year in the accompanying Arts show with artists like Jay Johnstone, Tomas Hijo, Ted Nasmith, Soni Alcorn-Hender and Anke Eissmann to name but a few.
The exhibition was organised and run by Elena Krysova whom I owe many thanks for her hard work in co-ordinating it all.

Preview of new work in progress

Confrontation with Smaug

Advancing army (Helm's Deep draft) or Battle of the five-beat pattern (2nd preliminary title in response to Howard Shore's Middle-earth scores)


Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of The Fellowship of the Ring

To mark the 60th anniversary of the first publishing of 'The Fellowship of the Ring' by George Allen and Unwin, Ltd. on 29th July 1954 I've gone back quite a way to the genesis of this very project to include variations on a scene of the Shire.  This isn't Bag End but it evokes a sense of the tranquility of the Shire that both Bagginses hold dear.  I hope it is a vision of the Shire worthy of J.R.R Tolkien's words.

In a hole in the ground...

Shire dwelling and a well-kept garden 

The Shire (variation of Shire dwelling and a well-kept garden)


A precious wants to be found!

Lost in the Goblin tunnels (a study of the ring before Bilbo's finding of it)

Study 1: For a new owner

I'm always very excited to photograph new studies of the ring at various points in the timeline of Middle-earth.  Here, it was about finding a location to suitably evoke the Goblin tunnels but had strong enough lighting to provide some decent images.  With these pieces the importance is very much on giving the ring a sense of awakening and a sentience all it's own as it very soon is about to come into the hands of hobbit Bilbo Baggins...

Study 2: Found in the tunnels

Study 3: A Golden ring

Study 4: It wants to be found

Hurrah for notching up 20,000+ page views this week too - a very preciousss chance to celebrate!


A resounding scoop on TORn!

This post largely, in content, duplicates the reflective article in the post previous but it was my pleasure that The One liked the piece and published it in full on Tuesday 24th June.

See how the article shaped up here!

Better still, it was a thrill that the article (referencing as it does the sterling work of musicologist and author Doug Adams) appeared in the same news cycle as an item announcing Adams' appearance at Salt Lake City Fantasy Con and his 'return to Tolkien's world'.

Doug Adams was also kind enough to respond with feedback and share news of my article's appearance on TORn on Twitter.  Much appreciated Doug!

The piece of artwork below didn't appear within the main article but further explores musical ideas of Howard Shore's Middle-earth music; with a particular focus on Smaug.  Smaug's musical presentation in The Hobbit films is something I intend to explore in upcoming work but this initial concept is a good start.  Using a fine exposure tool I've etched a portion of Smaug's musical phrase (referencing Adams' liner notes from the soundtrack release for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) above a grim representation of Bilbo approaching the sleeping dragon.  There will be more to follow on this idea in good time...

Lastly, other interesting things are also in the works with fellow artists and poets so it will be nice to drop hints along the way if I can...


Ascension, decline and a ring resounds: essay and artwork

A Ring resounds in Middle-earth:

An artistic response to the thematic theatrics of 
Howard Shore's scores

by John Cockshaw

Ring Cycle (2014)
Ascension and decline (2014)
A scene quietly unfolds onscreen.

A well-known wizard sits in front of a warmly-lit hearth in concerned contemplation,

The focus of his thoughts is simply a ring.

The orchestra stirs gently,

The strings swell ever so slightly,

An ancient-sounding musical theme is heard, circling with a breath-like regularity.

This is an early appearance of the History of the ring as identified and analysed by musicologist Doug Adams chronicler of Howard Shore’s score for The Lord of the Rings, and this breathing quality is a trademark of much of Shore’s music but also stands as one of the components that brings his Middle-earth writing to life so enticingly.

This is a theme of many guises and permutations over the course of a 10 hour plus film score that gives a musical voice to that most central of objects in Tolkien’s Middle-earth; The One Ring.  Through this theme the ring of power is bestowed with anthropomorphic qualities and assumes its central spot in the weighty drama with ever increasing diversity as the storytelling progresses.

Variations on a theme of The Ring of Power (2014) 
Howard Shore’s film score taken as a telling of J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in its own right is a tremendously vast operatic work, a masterful orchestral powerhouse of a score written in the digital age of film music. Tied to the film trilogy it works beautifully and away from it works exactly the same on account of its multi-textured and thematically rich presentation.  It is a kingly gift to devotees of Tolkien’s books as well as enthusiasts of the film it accompanies and also to lovers of grand symphonic film music who might lament the lack of that trend in film music today.  Each of the separate scores for The Fellowship of The Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King form a separate act in a unifying and immensely satisfying whole.

Concert performances, lectures, a symphony, a whole book by Doug Adams and a trio of ‘complete recordings’ releases have sprung from this grand musical work – the legacy of Shore’s work has extended much further beyond the film trilogy it accompanies, but of course wouldn’t have been afforded the necessity or budget to come into being without it.  There will always be other fine orchestral interpretations of Tolkien’s Middle-earth to give it company, such as Johan De Mej’s Symphony No. 1 The Lord of the Rings, Stephen Oliver’s music for the much-loved BBC Radio adaptation and Leonard Rosenman’s score to the Ralph Bakshi animated film.  But none of these offer such an extensive effort at world-building through music that Shore achieves, and that is another particular aspect of Howard Shore’s score that defines its brilliance.  The benefit of in-depth planning and roughly a year-long period of preparation for each of the film scores is a circumstance that happens all too rarely on film projects simply for the lack of time, impossibly short deadlines and other conspiring circumstances. Shore’s The Lord of the Rings is a product of its unique circumstances with the composer being involved in the film production from an early stage in its development.  Canadian composer Shore came to the production with prior experience of composing music for literary adaptations and approaching projects with an operatic sensibility.  In his 2010 book The Music of The Lord of the Rings Films: A Comprehensive Account of Howard Shore’s Scores Doug Adams comments that the search for the right composer for the project was a crucial element for the production team to get right, “the author’s complex literary structure required a worthy musical equivalent.  And then there was the epic tale itself, overflowing with cultures, customs, friendship, sacrifice, adventure and danger.” 


HobbitCon 2 AND an Entish evolution (Step-by-step progression)

Photo courtesy of Becky Dillon

HobbitCon 2 took place over Easter weekend (19th-21st April) in Bonn, Germany at the Maritim Hotel and was host to a whole array of special events, guests (inc. the dwarf cast of The Hobbit and Richard Taylor from Weta) and presentations including a show of art that I was invited to be part of by the wonderful Becky Dillon.  The feedback I managed to receive from viewers and buyers was incredible and I wholeheartedly would have loved to have been there.

See Marcel Aubron-Bulles' article on The Tolkienist for more information about the collective of artists with links to their respective websites:

A step-by-step approach to depicting Treebeard

Taking the opportunity to delve a little more into my working processes my focus will fix on Treebeard.  Many a woodland walk has taken a magical turn when facial forms in the trees have jumped out to me when I've had camera in hand.  These photographic sources have been used in combination and formed the basis for progressing to a refined interpretation of the tree-herding ent.

This piece, because of the complexity of building a likeness of Treebeard from tree forms and texture, benefitted from a physical cut and paste collage from photo prints.  Being a crucial stage of developing the piece I could be confident that I'd selected the right elements to achieve the effect I was aiming for.

Many pieces begin with a collage stage in this way but are altered exponentially in the digital building stage, but this collage displayed such promise that I did not stray too far from the template - becoming the final piece as shown below.


Further based on all the original photographic tree studies, and referencing the final piece, came a pencil sketch of the same idea - particularly focusing on imbuing a personality on the character (the sketch focusing on the wisdom of the character as opposed to the far-away sadness in the photographic versions whether related to the entwives or Saruman's felling of trees).

The wisdom of Treebeard (ent study)

Monochrome variations and presentations of Tree-herder in combination with The dreams of trees unfold (the full-colour version as shown below these two pieces).

The dreams of trees unfold

I hope this has been an interesting reveal into how these pieces are shaped and developed.  Time now for me to depart and begin plotting some new work...