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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

Alan Lee to be at a Tolkien art exhibition in the U.K. in April: Is anyone going?

Posted on 2008.02.06 at 14:01
Tags: , ,

~ Detail from ‘Frodo’s Meeting With Gildor’ by Alan Lee.

I have a favour to ask...

I can't go to this event, because of the cost of getting there (from the U.S.). But it's an easy distance for many of you. Are any of you planning to go? I received a flyer about it yesterday from the Tolkien Society. Here's what it said (my emphases):


A JRR Tolkien and fantasy-inspired exhibition, featuring the works of Ted Nasmith and Ruth Lacon. Special invited guests are John Howe, Alan Lee, and Roger Garland.

Included are brilliant original art and limited edition prints, music, costumes, memorabilia, quiz and prizes. Trade stands for Tolkien and Fantasy-inspired books, costumes, jewellery, weapons, birds of prey, games and more.

A spectacular exhibition, double the size of previous exhibitions, it will be held at the Redesdale Hall, High Street, Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire.

Friday 4th April 2008 (preview party starts at 7pm)
Saturday 5th to Monday 7th April 9am to 5pm daily.

For more information and preview party invites please call Andy Compton on: 07785-110512 or visit www.adcbooks.co.uk

Tolkien Library also had an article on the event. Here are portions from it (my emphases):

(…) Not only will the exhibition be bigger, it will also have an incredible guest list and all the biggest names in the field of Tolkien art will be present.

The exhibition will feature the works of Ted Nasmith and Ruth Lacon and there will be trading stands for Tolkien and Fantasy inspired books, costumes, jewellery, weapons, birds of prey, games and memorabilia.

The event will include the brilliant exhibition of original art, for example the series of castles which Ted Nasmith made for a soon to be published book of author George R.R. Martin.

There will be Limited Edition Prints; which will also be up for sale! There will be music, laughter and lots of interesting persons to talk to, quizes & prizes...

The artists Ted Nasmith and Ruth Lacon will be present and the special guests are John Howe, Alan Lee, and Roger Garland! All under one roof, all at one event!!

This exhibition is an opportunity to meet the artists and discuss the styles, mediums, and effects and enjoy the large selection of art. Maybe you can get even some of your precious books signed by them! There will also be large information and biographic displays on JRR Tolkien and the artists. Tolkien literature and antiquarian books, new books, memorabilia and games will also be on display.

The exhibition will also have a program of Tolkien associated events bringing this experience to life, including, Music (live Tolkien song cycles), Readings and Quiz. The Tolkien society will also be attending providing information on membership. (Highly recommended for Tolkien fans).

Entry is free. It should be a marvellous experience and I hope you can come along. The Redesdale Hall is a wonderful and large old building in the centre of Moreton in Marsh, oak panelled, stained glass and very atmospheric. Situated in the Heart of the Shire with nearby landmarks that inspired or involved JRR Tolkien; The Rollright Stones (Barrow Downs), Broadway Tower, Dormston (Bag End), Buckland, Three Farthing Stone, Warwick (where Tolkien was married), Chipping Campden & of course Oxford.

Moreton in Marsh has free and easy parking, it is 30 minutes north of Oxford, 50 minutes from Birmingham, and around 90 minutes from London, the Redesdale Hall is a very short walk from the station on the London Paddington main line.


Two views of Redesdale Hall, site of the exhibition:

Where I’d like to stay if I were going, and were rich (the Manor House Hotel):

Where it is going to take place (I like maps):

Doesn’t it sound terrific? I so hope some of my English readers are going.

Which leads me to the purpose of my post: for years, I have been pining and sighing for a real print of one of Alan Lee's portrait sketches of Frodo (see below). It’s pure Alan Lee, but when one compares it to his pre-film illustrations and sketches of Frodo (e.g. see image at top of post), it’s plain that working on the film made a difference to Lee's portrayal of Mr. Baggins. It’s not an *exact* portrait of film-Frodo, but film-Frodo definitely is an influence. I can't get enough of this drawing, it is so evocative: both detailed and sketchy, explicit and veiled at the same time, rather like its enigmatic subject.

This is the best copy unobscured by text I could find:

I made screencaps of it, too, from the EE extras, but they are not adequate for various reasons.

Below is the version that has no text obscuring the image of Frodo. However, it's small and extremely washed out. (I've cropped it, upped the contrast and enlarged it slightly for this post.) 1

Below are copies of a screencap showing the drawing being used in another place in the FotR extras. It's much, much better, but the text of the menu runs into Frodo's image, so it's still not adequate. 2

"Raw" screencap:

Cropped, enlarged, sharpened and brightened screencap:

1The upper image (with no text on a white background) can be found on Disc 3 of FotR EE, in the Appendices Pt. 1, 'From Book to Vision'. Just click open "Index" and navigate to "The Peoples of Middle-earth", page 5. Click open "Frodo"; this image is one of several.

2 The second image (with text on a parchment background) can be found on the same disc (#3), but in a different place. Open "Designing and Building Middle-Earth, enter "Design Galleries", then "The People's of Middle-Earth", then "Fellowship", and finally "Frodo". (There are nice drawings like this for Merry, Sam and Pippin, too.)

I have combed the Internet for a site that would sell a print of this drawing; I have asked around in Alan Lee-related sites for leads, but to no avail. I have found no address, email or snail, for reaching either Alan Lee or his agent (surely he has one). However, I know that some English fan-friends who went to an Alan Lee event several years ago asked him about purchasing copies of the drawing and he produced them, right there (signed!). If I recall, one person did not get one, because there weren't enough on hand, but she was sent it later.

My request is this: if you are going, could you please ask Alan Lee if one might buy a copy of this drawing? I would send you a copy of the drawing to bring for reference. If prints of this drawing are not available at the event (I don't expect them be), I wonder if you could ask if a print could be purchased by mail. I would send you a letter to give him, and in it I would include all the details for my end of the transaction.

Alan Lee is said by all to be a truly nice and gracious man, even if he is very private. I imagine he makes himself so inaccessible not because he doesn't want to share or sell his work, but because he so cherishes that privacy. But if you tell him how great, how fervent and how burning is my desire to have a frameable copy of his beautiful drawing, I am sure he will acquiesce. *g*

Of all Tolkien illustrators, Alan Lee is my favourite. And this portrait of Frodo is my favourite of all Frodo portraits. I love the feel Lee has for Tolkien's world overall, and that "feel" informs this drawing. I deeply admire his aesthetic and his approach to making art.

Here's a telling quote from Alan Lee, posted on IMDB's page* for him:

"To draw a tree, to pay such close attention to every aspect of a tree, is an act of reverence not only toward the tree, and toward the earth itself, but also our human connection to it. This is one of the magical things about drawing -- it gives us almost visionary moments of connectedness."

Even if no one is able or wants to perform this favour, I still hope some of you get to go this. I would get a *huge* vicarious thrill to know you met my personal LotR-art hero.

Very, very gratefully,

~ Mechtild

* A little bit of humour: On the IMDB thread for Lee, I saw that someone actually asked whether Alan and Christopher Lee were brothers.


(Deleted comment)
mechtild at 2008-02-07 02:18 (UTC) (Link)
It's good to know you're rooting for me, Mews. :)
lily_the_hobbit at 2008-02-06 21:37 (UTC) (Link)
I absolutely adore that picture!

Unfortunately, I probably won't go, even though I live in the UK now.
mechtild at 2008-02-07 02:20 (UTC) (Link)
Isn't it the loveliest piece? I so wish he had a website like other LotR artists (John Howe, etc.) do, offering prints for sale.
not_alone at 2008-02-06 21:48 (UTC) (Link)
It's a beautiful sketch and I'd say very heavily influenced by film Frodo:) I have seen it before though I'm not sure where.

I would really love to go to this event, it's not all that far for us but for several reasons I'm not sure if we'll be able to go at that time. I will know nearer the time and, if it turns out that we can, I would be delighted to do this for you:)
mechtild at 2008-02-07 02:24 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for considering it, Not Alone. I will make a reminder post periodically, just in case people don't see this one or just forget about it.

It's in the DVD extras for the EE of FotR, the art gallery part, I believe. I made a screencap from it a couple of years ago, but it was no better at all--maybe not even as good.
bandwench at 2008-02-07 01:26 (UTC) (Link)
Wow, I can certainly understand why you would want a copy of that sketch for your very own. It is absolutely breath-taking. I will cross my fingers and toes that some kind soul can help facilitate your acquisition of this treasure.

*cheerfully anticipates the scanning and sharing of aforementioned acquisition in your journal where I can drool better over the full-size beauty of it*
mechtild at 2008-02-07 02:26 (UTC) (Link)
Well, keep those digits crossed, Bandwench. Who knows? Maybe someone will go to it. If they only could find out a contact for buying the print, whether Alan Lee's or the agent who handles the sale of his work, that would be enough. I know the thing exists and that prints were made of it, so it *ought* to be possible, before I die, to get one to see "in the flesh". :)
pearlette at 2008-02-07 10:44 (UTC) (Link)
I wasn't aware of this event, because I'm no longer a member of the Tolkien Society and don't keep up much with Tolkien-related news, if at all.

I think I would be quite tempted to go, were it not for the fact that I already have other plans in place for that particular weekend.

I know the Cotswolds reasonably well but have never been to Moreton-in-Marsh: it looks gorgeous! So does that fabulous Hall where they're holding the exhibition. And the Manor House hotel ... I'm sure one could afford at least a cream tea there. :)

Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Worcestershire ... they're all really beautiful counties.

However, I'm not able to go to this exhibition. But if there was any way I thought I might be able to help with your request, I would.

I love Alan Lee's work and very much like Nasmith's Silmarillion illustrations. I am not keen at all on Roger Garland's art though ... have you ever seen it? It reminds me of 60s psychodelic stuff: meh.

P.S. I travelled to Manchester on a business trip last month and the train went through Stoke-on-Trent. I thought of your mother. :)
mechtild at 2008-02-07 15:17 (UTC) (Link)

Other illustrators and their *art*

Thanks, Pearl, for having considering it. The area around there looks lovely; I wish I could see it. And thanks for mentioning you went through Stoke. I haven't been there since 1975. Were you born yet? *wink*

I have never seen the work of Roger Garland. Sounds *definitely* not my cup of illustration art. But perhaps that will be a good thing for the sake of getting a wide draw for the show, such a variety of styles, that it. Alan Lee is nothing like John Howe, who is not like Lacon, who is not like Nasmith, etc. I haven't seen Nasmith's Sil work except for a beautifully-done scene of Turin finding naked and spent Nienor-Niniel. I should look up his other stuff.

But, since you have a sense of humour, I'm going to post below what I think the most HILARIOUS Tolkien illustration I've ever seen, by Rowena Morrill. I found it on the Internet. Purportedly it comes from a 1981 Tolkien calendar.

Rowena Morrill's "Beren and Luthien":

Isn't it the campiest thing? Look at that face (looks from her red cheeks like she's going to have to take a breather pretty soon). Look at that outfit! The Victoria's Secret lounge bra is great, but the roses that fix the diaphanous veil to her hip and wrists are the perfect tacky touch. Maybe she got Luthien mixed up with Salome?

Beren seems to be dressed as one of Robin Hood's 'Merry Men'. And "Hubba hubba! Whoa, dude!" seem to be his thoughts, rather than expressions of wonder. Beren in this illustration is reduced to a garden variety Peeping Tom, just lying back and enjoying the show.

Edited at 2008-02-07 03:18 pm (UTC)
(Anonymous) at 2008-02-07 23:35 (UTC) (Link)
Oh dear, Mechtild,

Beren and Luthien? I would never have guessed!

I am always interested in artistic interpretations of Tolkien's work ~ but after seeing this I appreciate Alan Lee all the more for his seemingly innate vision of all things Middle-earth. I agree that this a beautiful sketch of Frodo.

~ Blossom.
mechtild at 2008-02-08 00:04 (UTC) (Link)
Beren and Luthien? I would never have guessed!

Neither would anyone! Just imagine Tolkien's face if he had lived to see this, poor fellow.
Cat Mallard
darklingwoods at 2008-02-11 03:24 (UTC) (Link)
I'm not going (sadly!) but I do hope you get your wish!

I was lucky enough to meet Alan Lee at an art show in Atlanta (I was given the auspicious job of holding the door for him at the show, I was afraid I was going to faint I was so excited) He is as gentle and gracious as you have heard. He later signed my Hobbit, and I gave him a little package with a gushing letter and about the huge influence he has had on my work. I expected him to put the package aside for later, but no he opened it right there and read it (with me getting all teary). He looked at my prints and talked with about them like I was, well an artist :) I'll never forget it.

He loves talking technique and is completely open about his process, a real generous soul.

That is a beautiful drawing, I hope someone here is going and will be able to ask for you.

mechtild at 2008-02-11 04:30 (UTC) (Link)
Cat, what a sweet-souled reply. I remember there being a picture on your website of you and Alan Lee, or am I mixing your site up with some other artist's? If it is you, then this account makes the picture that much more worth looking at. He really does sound like the loveliest person. Opening the package right there! That's so sweet. I really was charmed by the way he appeared in the FotR EE Extras, which was the first time I'd ever seen him or heard him speak. I love the way he spoke about his art and the way he worked, his voice soft and melodious, his words thoughtful, even contemplative.
(Anonymous) at 2008-05-12 01:28 (UTC) (Link)

Cool quote

Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance?
-- Charlie McCarthy

mechtild at 2008-05-13 18:33 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Cool quote

Dear Anonymous, Thanks for commenting! Lee's book is full of great little nuggets. I hear that the same is true of John Howe's new book, "Fantasy Art Workshop". I just bought it but haven't yet read it.
(Anonymous) at 2008-08-22 04:01 (UTC) (Link)


I'm new here, just wanted to say hello and introduce myself.
mechtild at 2008-08-22 04:22 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hello

It's nice to meet you, but what do you call yourself? You posted your comment without being logged in (and thus showed up as "Anonymous").
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