Available WHILST STOCKS LAST as WRATH, RUIN AND A RED NIGHTFALL: The Art of John Cockshaw from Amazon.

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.

Contact: johncockshaw@gmail.com

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


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)


Sailing suns and journey's end

Over the mountains (farewell wherever you fare)

'...to the top of this rock the eagles swooped one by one and set down their passengers.
"Farewell!" they cried, "wherever you fare, till your eyries receive you at the journey's end!" That is the polite thing to say among eagles.
"May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks," answered Gandalf, who knew the correct reply.'

Chapter VII Queer lodgings p.132
The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

Where the sun sails and the moon walks


Shadows of the house of stone

Great Hall of the White Tower
1st variation

border variation

“And then he found himself at the doors of the great hall beneath the gleaming tower...and entered the cool white echoing shadows of the house of stone...Pippin looked into a great hall.  It was lit by deep windows in the wide aisles at either side, beyond the rows of tall pillars that upheld the roof...between the pillars there stood a silent company of tall images graven in cold stone.”

The Return of the King Chapter I Minas Tirith p.753-754
The Lord of the Rings Book V (J.R.R Tolkien)

Source photographic elements: Ripon Cathedral and Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire


New work makes final of Premios de arte 'Niggle 2013' (La Sociedad Tolkien Espanola)

Hoard of the dungeon-hall
(new piece created specifcally for Premios de arte 'Niggle 2013')

Monday brought great news that my entry for La Sociedad Tolkien Espanola's Premios de arte 'Niggle 2013' had been selected to the finalist stage of the contest.  This will present a wonderful opportunity to have the piece on show at Seville's 'Infanta Elena' public library from 18th - 30th November.

"It was at this point that Bilbo stopped.  Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did.  The tremendous things that happened afterwards were as nothing compared to it.  He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait...Before him lies the great bottom-most cellar or dungeon-hall of the ancient dwarves right at the mountain's root.  It is almost dark so that its vastness can only be dimly guessed, but rising from the near side of the rocky floor there is a great glow.  The glow of Smaug!"

Chapter XII Inside Information p.249
The Hobbit - J.R.R Tolkien


Ring at rest (a sunken secret)

River-bed for a ring

The text below refers to the plight of Isildur

"...he was ever swept down towards the tangles of the Gladden fields...There suddenly he knew that the Ring had gone.  By chance, or chance well used, it had left his hand and gone where he could never hope to find it again.  At first so overwhelming was his sense of loss that he struggled no more, and would have sunk and drowned.  But swift as it had come the mood passed.  The pain had left him.  A great burden had been taken away."

Unfinished Tales  J.R.R Tolkien
Part Three: The Third Age
Chapter 1: Disaster of the Gladden Fields p.275

This newly finished ring piece will accompany the other studies in the collection to form a depiction of the journey this central object takes through Middle-earth.  In practical photographing terms the key was to find an area of water shallow enough to place the prop in and be in control but deep enough to create the illusion of significant water depth.  The lighting conditions were not quite as I wished but ultimately this added to the murky quality of the colouring which proved quite useful.


Recent articles on Middle-earth news and Tolkien Library.com

A very many thanks to Myla at Middle-earth news for the great article on my work and artist film which appeared online Monday 12th August

Also to Pieter Collier at Tolkien Library for the article on my work on Friday 23rd August (also nicely linking to this very blog!)

For fun and to further celebrate the continued publicity of my collaboration with Oloris Publishing I've created the 2 poster designs below (though it must be stated these are unofficial and not part of Oloris' own publicity)


Wrath Ruin and a Red Nightfall - An artist's film

This video was created to provide an insight into my creative process and my rationale for approaching art inspired by Middle-earth.  It offers my motivation for taking the path of photography when visualizing Middle-earth, and illustrates the particular aspects of influence that are drawn from J.R.R Tolkien's writing.

As a book trailer that also employs the official Oloris Publishing logos it also looks ahead to the publication date of Spring 2014 as a means to begin generating interest.  A good chunk of June was spent filming and editing this video piece, which proved to be a delightful challenge in terms of being both informative and enticing.

I hope you enjoy viewing it as much as I enjoyed putting it together!


10,000 strong atleast!

It came with great satisfaction and excitement to see the page-view stats on the blog reach 10,000 recently. This is not bad at all for a project that began in quite modest fashion.  Its continued development is assured. Exciting news is on the way during the next month, things have been slightly hushed recently on account of the work prep to be done for Wrath Ruin and a Red Nightfall to be published by Oloris Publishing in Spring 2014

Meanwhile preparation is underway for Oxonmoot 2013 in September, the annual meet of The Tolkien Society in Oxford where I'll be exhibiting a selection of prints alongside some very talented Tolkien-inspired artists.

I hope to check in very soon...


Wicked words of a Wormtongue...

Dark dreams of The Golden Hall

Source photographic elements: Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire

“But for long now he has plotted your ruin, wearing the mask of friendship, until he was ready…your land was open and strangers came and went.  And ever Wormtongue’s whispering was in your ears, poisoning your thought, chilling your heart, weakening your limbs, while others watched and could do nothing, for your will was in his keeping.”

The Two Towers Chapter VI The King of the Golden Hall p.521
The Lord of the Rings Book III (J.R.R Tolkien)


Shadow and flame descends...

Foundations of Stone

Source photographic elements: Macro photography of Fraisthorpe beach and Kilham, East Yorkshire

“With a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward, and its shadow plunged down and vanished.”

The Fellowship of the Ring Chapter V The Bridge of Khazad-Dum p.331

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

A city ruined by wrath...

The ruin of Osgiliath

Source photographic elements: Dunstanburgh Castle in Northumberland, Whitby Abbey, East Yorkshire and architectural elements in the City of York and Leeds

“For that is the ruin of Osgiliath on either side of Anduin, which our enemies took and burned long ago.  Yet we won it back...we hold still the near half of Osgiliath.  For a little while.  But we await now a new onslaught there.  Maybe the chief onslaught of the war that comes.”

The Return of the King Chapter I Minas Tirith p.764-5

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


Current works in progress

The following images are in progress and should be completed over the coming days and weeks, but I thought it would be interesting to post their draft stages to get a sense of how some new work is coming along...

The ruins of Osgiliath
(fine tuning to be done and smoothing of atmospheric layers)

In the Golden Hall 
(an early draft stage showing an encounter between Eowyn and Grima Wormtongue, with further detail to the Hall interior and a depiction of King Theoden to be added)

Through Fire and Water (Foundations of stone)
(The vertiginous fall of the Balrog through the subterranean caverns of Moria following the fight with Gabdalf on the bridge of Khazad-Dum)

Something for the onset of June...

Way to the Shire

Source photographic elements: The grounds of Fountains Abbey near Ripon, North Yorkshire


A love letter to The Shire...

Evening at the edge of The Shire

The day dims slowly in the Shire
Allowing early evening’s entry
To linger and light the land
With many subtly subdued shades
Glowing upon the rivers and glades
A serene little spot
For a humble hobbit
To take a moment to stop

Backpack brimming
Splendidly supplied
A hearty Halfling’s needs inside
Though now with a heart too heavy
With a sense of the unknown so heady
Yet hopeful heroism welling inside
A journey unplanned
Farewell must be said
To this much loved land

Sweet farewell, land of the Shire
Homeland that burns the heart’s fire
The surest feet must make their step
For adventure lies far off ahead
Gripping with a heavily strong dread
To head toward the wretched wild
Best foot forward
For unimaginable miles

Sweet farewell, sweet land of the Shire
The homeland that burns the heart’s fond fire

This image and poem were composed in response to an invitation from Oloris publishing to submit material for Silver Leaves Journal Issue 5 'The Hobbit'.  Whether eventually selected or not this piece remains a love-letter to my home surroundings of Ripon, North Yorkshire - my little corner of The Shire.


Publishing project with Oloris announced for 2014


Wrath, Ruin and a red Nightfall

At the close of February I was invited by Lara Sookoo along with Gerda Marz of Oloris Publishing to collaborate on a book release for their Oloris Art Series.  Now, after a couple of months and time spent organising much content, Oloris have officially announced this upcoming release (scheduled for 2014) via their website and social media.

Without doubt it is an extremely exciting opportunity and I look forward to the months ahead being involved in the development stages and the impending release.

The full press release can be read here


Work selection on show at Sarehole Mill, Birmingham

It gives me great pleasure to post a selection of photographs of the exhibition currently on at Sarehole Mill in Birmingham.  With huge thanks to Irene de Boo curator/manager of the site for Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery (BMAG) the preparation for this display has been ongoing since November shortly after this blog was set up.  A selection of prints are to be found in the cafe area and within the working environment of the mill itself.

The links the site has to the work and life of J.R.R Tolkien cannot be underestimated as the author lived nearby as a child and to the adjoining location of Moseley bog which both exerted an influence on his crafting of The Lord of the Rings.  The site works wonders with the space it has, and much of it is dedicated to beautifully presented information about Tolkien provided by BMAG.

After a massive restoration process the site is now set up as a working water mill, and combined with its superb Tolkien museum elements the mill is a great spot for any fan of Tolkien.  I am extremely proud to be associated with the site via my exhibition which continues until the end of October.

Its annual Middle-earth weekend (free to the public) runs 11th-12th May this year from 11am-5pm