It has lately been a long couple of months without any news updates but I'm very pleased, and this is literally just on the eve of the event itself, to announce a new exhibition of my work along with contributions from a very valued collaborator; Archaeologist Shaun Richardson. "Dales of a Perilous Realm" takes an intriguing approach to JRR Tolkien-inspired art and combines photography, archaeology, drawing with a loving tribute to our favourite locations and beauty spots in the Yorkshire Dales. The area wouldn't have been unknown to Tolkien considering he was based fairly close by during his time as Professor at The University of Leeds, but the show is very careful not to make any claims that Yorkshire directly inspired his creation of Middle-earth.
The press release for the exhibition is included on the next page:
JRR Tolkien’s literary creation of Middle-earth the epic setting of The
Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the exhibition ‘Dales of a
Perilous Realm’ presents an intriguing mix of photographic montage, drawing and
fictional archaeology study in response to Tolkien’s tales.
Cockshaw presents a series of evocative photographs in which the dramatic force
and character of a given Middle-earth landscape is emphasised over fantastical
events or characters. The central quests and wars and the populace of
Middle-earth that are involved in them are largely kept on the periphery of the
image, obscured or planted in the background. In addition to the direct
influence of JRR Tolkien’s writing the frame of reference also includes 19th
Century Romantic painting in the frequent depiction of nature as a cataclysmic
force combined with apocalyptic visions of hell. All but the merest hint
of the characters that populate Tolkien’s Middle-earth reinforce the notion
that these photographs present a grand stage setting where the drama is
unfolding out of sight. The landscape is the main character and central
focus. Pencil studies and ink drawings by the Artist accompany the main
collection of photographic work along with original poetry and occasional
source quotations from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
In the same way that JRR Tolkien conceived The Lord of the Rings both as
a response to a perceived lack of English legend and a tribute to the landscape
of his formative years, the exhibition is also the artist’s tribute to the
Yorkshire landscape. Although often barely detectable, many local
landscapes are referenced, subverted or deconstructed in varying ways using
digital montage and macro photography. The recognition of these
references is not vital to the appreciation of the work but offer an extra
layer of enjoyment and subterfuge.
this exhibition project was in its early stages Artist John Cockshaw
accompanied local Archaeologist Shaun Richardson on a survey to Crummackdale in
the heart of the Yorkshire Dales to gather visual research. It quickly
became apparent that the two shared similar interests in landscape and Tolkien
and, like small stones that create an avalanche, a collaboration began.
to providing a fascinating commentary to accompany ‘Dales of a Perilous Realm’
Shaun Richardson has contributed expertly rendered Archaeological survey
drawings that fuse references to the Yorkshire Three Peaks with a fictional
depiction of the location Weathertop in The Lord of the Rings.
Linking geographical references to Yorkshire and Tolkien’s Middle-earth is not
a means of exerting any actual theory that the two are linked, or that Tolkien
was thinking of Yorkshire in his writing, but presenting a loving tribute to
both as separate entities.
and a Red Nightfall: The Art of John Cockshaw’ is an upcoming publication by
Oloris Publishing and will feature a foreword by Archaeologist Shaun
Richardson. Both Artist and Archaeologist are working on a future
publication that seeks to combine an artistic and archaeological study of JRR