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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


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


Footsteps of doom...

Land of Ash and Smoke

Source photographic elements: Macro photography and miniature elements of East Devon coast

“Slowly the light grew, until it was clearer than it had yet been. A strong wind from the West was now driving the fumes of Mordor from the upper airs.  Before long the hobbits could make out the shape of the land for some miles about them.  The trough between the mountains and the Morgai had steadily dwindled as it climbed upwards, and the inner ridge was now no more than a shelf in the steep face of the Ephel Duath; but to the east it fell as sheerly as ever down into Gorgoroth.”

The Return of the King Chapter II The land of shadow p.927
The Lord of the Rings Book VI (J.R.R Tolkien)

Towards a deathly path...

Darkest door of the mountain

Within the Darkest door

Source photographic elements: miniature-scale elements taken at Fraisthorpe Beach, East Yorkshire

Do not enter through that door
Nor peer down those passages
To the grim grey half light within
For something deeply down dwells
In the darkest place
A deathly doom
Is all that awaits

“The horses would not pass the threatening stone, until the riders dismounted and led them about.  And so they came at last deep into the glen; and there stood a sheer wall of rock, and in the wall the Dark Door gaped before them like the mouth of night.  Signs and figures were carved above its wide arch too dim to read, and fear flowed from it like a grey vapour.”

The Return of the King Chapter II The passing of the grey company p.786
The Lord of the Rings Book V (J.R.R Tolkien)

A travelling tiny trinket: a study of The One Ring

To grasp the ring

It lives in the darkness of shadow
At the mercy of no-one
Travelling only from hand to hand
Toward its master’s grasp

Out of the shadows

Study 1

Study 2

As attached as everyone is to their wedding ring I called upon mine to stand-in for the powerful One Ring...or should I say I thrust it into service for a series of photographs seeking to portray the very nature of the ring's presence in the mythology.  It captivates; threatens; instills fear, lust and greed for mastery; frightens; corrupts; ensnares the weak-minded; creates obsession; and ever seeks its own return to Mordor.  Visually it's returning revolutionary form also provides much beautiful description and imagery to work from. Rarely has an evil power been so seductively presented.  

Much care was taken in the handling of this precious item in the course of photographing it.

Ahead lies adventure

The season that kindles adventure

In the company of Autumn

Source photographic elements: North Yorkshire moorland

A need to venture far from home
Is pressing high above all other tasks
But let hesitation have its short hour
For ahead but a short distant is Autumn
With air that kindles a sense of adventure

“Bad End seemed a more desirable residence than it had for years, and he wanted to savour as much as he could of his last summer in the Shire.  When autumn came, he knew that part at least of his heart would think more kindly of journeying, as it always did at that season.”

The Fellowship of the Ring Chapter III Three is company  p.65
The Lord of the Rings Book I (J.R.R Tolkien)


Bilbo had escaped only just in time...

Swift escape from furious fire

Source photographic elements: Woodland photography near the River Laver in Ripon, North Yorkshire and fire elements taken from photographic studies whilst at Kilham, East Yorkshire

“A few eagles were still circling and sweeping above the battle-ground.  The flames about the trees sprang suddenly up above the highest branches.  They went up in cackling fire.  There was a sudden flurry of sparks and smoke.  Bilbo had escaped only just in time.”

Chapter IV Out of the frying-pan into the fire p.125
The Hobbit (J.R.R Tolkien)

The suggestion of tormenting wolf eyes lurk in the lower darkness of this composition whilst angry fire spreads upwards through the trees to reveal a distant hint of the battleground this scene has just been.  The eagles of Middle-earth have carried away the company of dwarves and all away to safety from this scene, with the last eagle just seen making its swift exit with its burden.

Swift escape from furious fire (detail)

A disturbance at dusk...

Dark riders in a fair land

Source photographic elements: Woodland photography near the River Laver in Ripon, North Yorkshire and horse and rider elements photographed in Tunisia.

“In the lane the noise of hoofs broke out, and gathering to a gallop, went hammering away into the darkness...the Black Riders rode like a gale to the North-gate...They rode down the guards at the gate and vanished from the Shire.”

“Frodo soon went to sleep again; but his dreams were again troubled with the noise of wind and of galloping hoofs.”

The Fellowship of the Ring Chapter XI A knife in the dark p.177
The Lord of the Rings Book I (J.R.R Tolkien)

The nine riders of the enemy are assembled here in a hazy half-light presenting a dream-like vision of evil.  Whether they are tormenting images within a characters dreaming subconscious, or a menacing reality galloping stealthily from a peaceful land it is certain that doom and death is all they are intent on dealing.


A refuge of hill, wood and water: 3 pieces inspired by verse in J.R.R Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings

O wind on the waterfall

Source photographic elements: Austrian landscape photography

Woodland water

Source photographic elements: Woodland photography near the River Laver in Ripon, North Yorkshire

“Rain may fall and wind may blow,
And many miles be still to go,
But under a tall tree I will lie,
And let the clouds go sailing by”

The Fellowship of the Ring Chapter IV A shortcut to mushrooms p.90
The Lord of the Rings Book I (J.R.R Tolkien)

“O! Sweet is the sound of falling rain,
and the brook that leaps from hill to plain;
but better than rain or rippling streams
is Water hot that smokes and steams...
O! Water is fair that leaps on high
In a fountain white beneath the sky”

The Fellowship of the Ring Chapter V A conspiracy unmasked p.101
The Lord of the Rings Book I (J.R.R Tolkien)

The charmingly entertaining songs and verse found frequently in Tolkien’s writing adds great depth to the landscape and history of Middle-earth, painting an ever wider picture also of the various peoples and cultures it references.  The chosen extracts here give little history of race or deed but offer thoughts on the simple pleasure of the weather, water and the countryside, and are are sung by hobbits for who the joys of such things are very close to the heart.

Lower land of the river valley

Source photographic elements: Woodland photography in Austria with horse and figure elements photographed in the Sahara desert, Tunisia

This third piece offers a glimpse of travelling elves and the poetry here is composed by myself in response to the imagery

Wanderers rest under welcoming trees
In this fairest of fair far lands
For a long while in this wooded spot
Forgetting the weariness of the road

Together in this light dappled dwelling
They make merry with long laughter and song
And hearty fill of fine food and full drink
Reaping the wealth of the riches of rest

Night will eventually pass into morning next
And a return to the road, their journey renewed
To arrive late in the day by evening almost
Upon the threshold of the last homely house