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Exhibition: The Making Of Modor

The Making of Mordor was a collection of sketchbooks,oils on canvas, photography, lithographs and LED light box installations . The exhibition showcased what author JRR Tolkien and Peter Jackson the director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, used as inspiration for characters, costumes and set design.

The entrance to the gallery was like entering one of the forests from the book/ film, with floor to ceiling wooden branches that trickled light through, brilliantly setting the mood for the pieces on display. The first two pieces I come across that inspired the characters in the film were.

'Chain Makers' (1942) water colour and gouache on paper

'Chain Makers Taking a Link out of a Furnace' by Micheal Ayrton

The striking images depict the robust hard working men, with sunken features and black ringed eyes being starved of everything wholesome. Observing the two pieces draws you into the heat absorbed dark furnaces, where you inhale the dust and fell the oppressive heat on your flesh. Like Tolkeins Orc creatures in The Lord of the Rings hard at work, we see a human depiction with 'making the chains' two photographic prints by Brain Griffin. Which are staged scenes representing Black Country characters who were solid swivel foundry workers, there images represent the creatures who slaved making the chains. I like the contrast of the monotone background and characters as a backdrop to the red and orange heat colours that radiate from the metal link chains being shaped of Griffins photographs. They beat

down timelessly on the hot metal to make endless chain link after chain as the images in Micheal Ayrton water colours.

There are three large scale framed prints that were commissioned by The Empire Marketing Board (EMB) to market British produce across the continent. The three posters by Clive Arthur Gardiner

'A Blast Furnace' 1927 ink on paper,

'Making. Electrical Machinery (1928) ink on paper

'Motor Manufacturing' (1928) ink on paper.


They depict the three main industries of that era, steel making, motor manufacturing and electrical engineering. The bold, strong prints show the environment, machinery and workers and how they all interconnect as geometric components in the busy factories. A modern interpretation and eye catching stimulus of how physical and tiring the work must have been. Original sketches on display evoked vivid memories 'The Tower of the Moon' and ' Shelob' the spider that attacks Froddo, which sent shivers down my spine when watching the film. Other lithographs representing scenes from the films by Ted Nasmith the Canadian Artist also know for his work with the hugely popular 'Game of Thornes' to see these original sketches was a delight I peered through the glass cabinet they were encased in, like a child looking through a sweet shop window of the 1970's. The dark,mythical illustrations by Nasmith are enchanting and amazing with such detail and fantasy that you get drawn into a world of Ents. Audio points are available to listen to. The Lord of the Rings The Two Towers (1954) Passage to the Marshes by JRR Tolkein read by Peter Hill which lasts three minutes, gave me the experience of the vile smells and unfriendly foliage. Also history of the Black Country industrial heritage and LED light box installation by Euripides Altint Zoglou representing various gates and their different textures and materials that showed their deterioration over time due to the weather conditions could be inspirations for the Black Gate.


I have mentioned just a few art works form the collection and there is a variety of more past and present works from very talented creative individuals who lifted the lid off powerful images that made a classic book come to a very visually stimulating life. It shows a timeline from the early 19th century to the present day. How industry, nature, people, lifestyle, textures and materials influenced the imagery we have observed in the Triology. It was an enjoyable journey to share with Tolkein and the other creative professionals who gave us award winning productions. So if it comes to your town or city it is definitely a must not miss show!

By Dee Manning to see more images from the exhibition check out my instagram account @dee_visuale

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