'Artists are gnostics, and practise what the priests think is long forgotten.' - Hugo Ball

Friday, 20 August 2010

Festival in the Shire

© The Festival in the Shire TM

Well, I'm back - not to the Shire but from it. 'It' being three days of Tolkien filled fun in Wales. If you've been following this blog you'll know I was exhibiting in the Art Exhibition there and have come back thrilled to be hanging amongst such terrific art. I've decided I should give up painting fantastic trees after seeing Rodney Matthews' 'Old Man Willow' but I guess I'll just have to do better! I have to thank the volunteer organisers for hanging my work and setting up my prints and cards for me in the Festival Shop. You were heroic.

I also had a new print there - yet another Tolkien painting I did a while ago but never got around to making a print of - Gollum:

© Sue Wookey

Gollum is looking somewhat freaky here, he's seen reaching out for the Ring while reflected in the Ring itself. An image showing him trapped by it's power. The Ring is also seen reflected back in his eyes and to add to the tension, the Eye is looking out from the centre of the Ring. Enough to give anyone bad dreams! The limited edition giclee prints are available now from Galley Hill Art.

All in all I was very pleased with how the exhibiting went and sold enough prints and cards to feel reassured that my work was enjoyed.

BUT - it wasn't all exhibiting, of course. There was a fantastic Conference where papers were given by (amongst others) Tom Shippey, Verlyn Flieger, John Garth, Colin Duriez and Cary Olsen. I admit I was in seventh heaven (is there an eighth heaven? I might have been there too...). I learnt so much, there was plenty of laughter along with the scholarship (did I mention Tom Shippey?) and one talk that I will never forget from John Garth, who read a very carefully put together series of excerpts of the letters of Tolkien's great TCBS friend, Robert Gilson. Gilson's niece was in the audience as we followed his time at school with Tolkien, through to his army training, journey to the Front, his hopes and fears. Gilson died in the first major push at the opening of the Battle of the Somme and hearing his own words as he prepared for battle in the horrific mud of the trenches, was unbearably moving. I'm hoping, like everyone at the talk, that there will be a book so that these very well written letters can be shared.

The main speakers:
L to R: Olsen, Dimitra Fimi, Garth, Flieger, Shippey, Duriez, Alex Lewis (hidden), Colin Manlov and Ruth Lacon.
© Sue Wookey

Outside the Conference there were many other smaller talks, music, storytelling - how wonderful to hear Beren and Luthien told out loud from memory! - and re-enactments. All this and beautiful scenery too!


John Garth said...

Thanks for the comments, Sue: I'm glad you got so much from the Rob Gilson letters. It was also a very moving experience for me to read them out - and wonderful to have the opportunity to do so.

Sue W said...

Thank you, John - it was, I'm sure, a remarkable experience for everyone in the room. I think we all felt very privilaged that the family allowed us to share in them. I also loved Gilson's humour. Knowing Tolkien's equally keen sense of humour the early days of the TCBS must have been so much fun.