Selections to be published in 2014 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.

Copyright of all images belongs to John A Cockshaw


A precious kind of treachery...Monochrome series collection #3

Pertaining to the ring, its treacherous quality and the specific ties it has to Smeagol / Gollum is the focus for the latest collection of monochrome variations of existing full-colour pieces.  The bleaker and starker monochrome presentation adds a purposely chilling dimension to these photographic works.

The Finding of the ring

A secret only fire can tell

A wretched trail variation 1

A wretched trail variation 2

Cave of the precious

Forging of the ring


For the Fall of Sauron: Artwork features in 'Mechtild'

Exactly a week back it was March 25th or Tolkien Reading Day and Tolkien-related reading, events and commemorations are entered into by Tolkienists, Tolkien enthusiasts and fanatics.  March 25th, on the calendar of events in The Lord of the Rings is the anniversary of The Fall of Sauron also known as the "day of hope" (as declared by Aragorn).

The Tolkien-focused journal Mechtild commemorated this anniversary with a potent and moving poem entitled Hope by Janet Alvarez (pen-name Jan-u-wine) along with a request to include two pieces of artwork of mine that reference Sauron's domain.

With thanks to Linda Backman aka 'Mechtild' and Janet Alvarez the full article from March 25th can be read below:

Cold country, fearful forest (inspired by Sir Gawain and the Green Knight)

A rare post here concerned not with Middle-earth but Arthurian legend, with specific focus on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  The link to Tolkien is clear on account of his translation of the legendary tale undertaken during the 1920's (published posthumously much later).  I'm forever drawn to alliterative verse and so keep returning to Sir Gawain, which will also be the case for Tolkien's The Fall of Arthur (published in 2013).  Similar to the inspiring aspects that The Lord of the Rings has on my artwork the catalyst that prompted me to embark on work inspired by this tale is the strength of the landscape writing.  My first discovery and my most favourite rendering of Sir Gawain is by Poet Simon Armitage whose presentation of the harsh natural landscape coupled with his mastery of colourful alliteration is a joy to behold.

Departing Knight

Gawain's travails in the forest


...and Orodruin reeled

The Summit of Doom

"...and Orodruin reeled.  Fire belched from its riven summit.  The skies burst into thunder seared with lightning.

The Return of the King Chapter 3 Mount Doom p.947
The Lord of the Rings Book VI (J.R.R Tolkien)

War comes to the Pelennor fields

The City besieged (enclosed in a ring of foes)

A hellish vision of the battle of Pelennor fields is presented here suggesting all manner of brutality and ruin before the gates of Minas Tirith.  The scene is bleak and the citadel is succumbing to the might of Mordor...all but for the glimmer of hope to the right of the composition and the approach of the riders of Rohan.

The City besieged colour variant

‘Ever since the middle night the great assault had gone on...There came great beasts, like moving houses in the red and fitful light...All before the walls on either side of the Gate the ground was choked with wreck and with bodies of the slain; yet still driven as by a madness more and more came up...Horns, horns, horns.  In dark Mindolluin’s sides they dimly echoed.  Great horns of the north blowing.  Rohan had come at last.’

The Return of the King Chapter 4 The Siege of Gondor p.828-29
The Lord of the Rings Book V (J.R.R Tolkien)


Artist feature on The Tolkienist

Many thanks to Marcel Aubron-Bulles for the coverage on the excellent website The Tolkienist to discuss the aspects of influence and approach that keep me charting an artistic course through J.R.R Tolkien's Middle-earth.  I had a nice opportunity to again refer to the majesty of Howard Shore's film music and Doug Adams' analysis of it as a point of influence in addition to why I choose photographic methods for this work.

Article: Introducing the art of John Cockshaw: a different path to Middle-earth

Also particularly great was the first official mention of the introduction that will be included within the upcoming book Wrath, Ruin and a Red Nightfall by Oloris Publishing.  Archaeologist Shaun Richardson, a great friend of mine and fellow Tolkien enthusiast, will be providing a fascinating and thought-provoking piece to open the art volume that touches upon archaeological aspects of Tolkien side-by-side with references to art history and our shared interest of the visual aspects of experiencing landscape.

Crummackdale in the Yorkshire Dales where I accompanied Shaun on an archaeological survey in Summer 2009.


Variations on an Elf trail (from the account of Glorfindel)

Three variations of the same piece take inspiration from the account of Glorfindel's trail to assist Strider and the hobbits in conjunction with the pursuit of the Nazgul, servants of Sauron.  The central figure depicted centrally in the piece could equally be a hooded Glorfindel riding in haste or a lone member of the Nine poised on the hunt in the open country.

"They said that the Nine were abroad, and that you were astray bearing a great burden without guidance, for Gandalf had not returned.  There are few even in Rivendell that can ride openly against the Nine; but such as there were, Elrond sent out north, west and south...It was my lot to take the Road, and I came to the Bridge of Mitheithel...the servants of Sauron were upon the Bridge, but they withdrew and I pursued them westward...Since then I have searched for your trail.  Two days ago I found it..."

The Fellowship of the Ring 
Book II Chapter XII: Flight to the Ford  p.210

New collection of pencil work: The silence, the wisdom and the watchfulness...

The Oppressive gate (pencil study) 
accompanied by monochrome variation of Menace of the Gate (2012)

The wisdom of Treebeard (pencil study)

Ruined arch and tower (Osgiliath-inspired pencil study)

Windswept Edoras (pencil study)



Wild lands, dark paths...Monochrome series collection #2

The monochrome series continues with five previously full-colour landscape / architectural environments inspired by scenes from J.R.R Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring and The Hobbit.

The Watchtower

Lower land of the river valley 

O wind on the waterfall

Dark places of the world

Ascent of the mountains


Silver Leaves Journal Issue 5 and Oxonmoot Art Exhibition 2013

2013 has been an incredibly busy and exciting year on many fronts so much so that I'm only just getting round to reporting on the following items that were part of what has made this year so wonderful.

Silver Leaves Journal Issue 5: The Hobbit

It was an amazing opportunity to have some poetry, artwork and a piece of reflective writing feature in Issue 5 of this wonderful journal published by Oloris Publishing in September.  The writers and artists contributing to the content all offer intriguing takes, interpretations and interpolations on J.R.R Tolkien's source writing and it was great to feature alongside other Tolkien artists Danielle Storey, Jay Johnstone, Jenny Dolfen, Joe Gilronan, Emil Johansson, Jeff Murray to name a few.

September 20th - 22nd was The Oxonmoot Art Show running as part of the annual meet of The Tolkien Society that I was an excited contributor of.  Curated by Becky Dillon, the show was a very diverse mix of styles featuring painting by Jenny Dolfen, Ted Nasmith, Joe Gilronan and Jay Johnstone - fibre art by Liz Heffner - jewellery by Laura Taylor - Poster art by William Puck. As a guest exhibitor Jemima Catlin also exhibited prints of her stunning new illustrations for The Hobbit.  It was a superb weekend being present at the show and assisting with the hanging, more so to hear Jay and Jemima give presentations on their art. A signed copy of Jemima's illustrated edition and receiving some great feedback on my work was the icing on the cake!


Exhibition at CURZON RIPON to tie in with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (12A)

20th December 2013 - 3rd January 2014

A selection of pieces from 'From Mordor to the Misty Mountains' on show at Curzon Ripon to coincide with the two week screening of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (12A)

This exhibition had been pending as a possible idea for a short time and as a fantastic and brand new local venue (opening only in November) it was with great pride to be able to hang a selection of pieces from the collection to coincide with the cinema's two-week run of the second chapter of The Hobbit trilogy.

Many thanks to Manager Penny Hartley (inc. James Hare and Bev Isherwood)


3 scenes to show them all...Monochrome series collection #1

A collection of monochrome pieces derived from existing full-colour works from the collection begins with three landscape scenes to represent an individual moment from all three of the separate books that comprise J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

White tower of the Steward

Riddle at the Door of Durin

Battle of the keep


Let sleeping dragons lie...

Smaug sleeps in the dungeon-hall

The deadly presence of Smaug quietly sleeps amongst the treasure-hoard of The Lonely Mountain.  His massive trailing body is hidden except for his still head atop the piles of gold.  Bilbo emerges into the dungeon-hall in the far centre of the image.  Smaug here is composed from miniature rock photography and this piece offers a monochrome variation on 'Hoard of the dungeon-hall' (seen further below a few posts down) that featured in the Sociedad Tolkien Espanola's Exibition Niggle 2013 in Seville.

More monochrome variations of existing pieces will follow over the course of December...


Wrath upon the river (fire drake, fire lake)

Wrath of the dragon (Fire wrath, dragon roar)

Final piece comprising elements photographed at miniature scale with multi-textured layers to shape the dragon form and fire damage 

Detail of the dragon Smaug

Penultimate draft before final fire element added to the foreground

"...the roar of Smaug's terrible approach grew loud, and the lake rippled red as fire beneath the awful beating of wings...Fire leaped from the dragon's jaws.  He circled for a while high in the air above them lighting all the lake; the trees by the shores shone like copper and like blood with leaping shadows of dense black at their feet."

Chapter XIV  Fire and Water  p. 286-287
The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien


Dark tower, dark land

On the edge of ruin (where the dark master dwells)

2nd variation

3rd variation

“...the Power of Barad-dur was shaken, and the Tower trembled from its foundations to its proud and bitter crown...the magnitude of his own folly was revealed to him in a blinding flash, and all the devices of his enemies were at last laid bare.”

The Return of the King Chapter 3 Mount Doom p.946
The Lord of the Rings Book VI (J.R.R Tolkien)

Well met, I say again...

Hooded and cloaked (old man in the forest)


An interesting double image occurs here; Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas become aware of the beggar-man on their heels in Fangorn Forest whilst the light from the canopy of trees projects an apparition of Gandalf the White (who will shortly reveal himself)

‘Look at what?’ asked Gimli.
‘There in the trees.’
‘Where? I have not elf-eyes.’
‘Hush! Speak more softly! Look!’ said Legolas pointing.  ‘Down in the wood, back in the way that we have just come.  It is he.  Cannot you see him, passing from tree to tree?’
               ‘I see, I see now!’ hissed Gimli.  ‘Look Aragorn!  Did I not warn you?  There is the old man.  All in dirty grey rags: that is why I could not see him at first.’

The Two Towers Chapter 5 The White Rider p.492
The Lord of the Rings Book III (J.R.R Tolkien)

The darkness and the fire...

Flame and Mountain Fire

“...between them there came a rumble, rising to a deafening crash and roar; the earth shook, the plain heaved and cracked, and Orodruin reeled.  Fire belched from its riven summit.  The skies burst into thunder seared with lightning.”

The Return of the King Chapter 3 Mount Doom p.947

The Lord of the Rings Book VI (J.R.R Tolkien)