Tolkien in Landerneau

Posted by Speakeasy News > Friday 07 July 2023 > What's On

If during your upcoming vacation you find yourself in Brittany and you are a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien's work, then you have two good reasons to go see this exhibition located in Landerneau. It's open until January, so it would make a good class visit for the new school year too.

Illustration © John Howe © Sophisticated Games/Middle-earth Enterprises © Rodhamine-© FHEL 2023

Conceived as a visual art exploration, with commentary of Tolkien’s oeuvre as well as of the origin of medieval legends, which today are predominant in comic books, video games, and on the small and big screens, the exhibition presents more than 250 drawings and paintings by the artist John Howe.

The Witch-King before Minas Morgul © John Howe © FHEL 2023

John Howe was born in western Canada in 1957 and has been a freelance artist since 1981. (He attended art school in Strasbourg, France.) He is the illustrator (and occasionally author) of many children’s books.

He first illustrated Tolkien’s novels before taking part in the artistic direction of the two cinematographic trilogies The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit alongside filmmaker Peter Jackson, living for several years in New Zealand during the shooting of the films. More recently, he has taken part in the artistic production of The Lord of the Ring: The Rings of Power. The exhibition at Landerneau is the first to present a broad set of paintings and drawings involving all aspects of his work, from his first pieces in art school to his most recent paintings and conceptual works.

Watchful Peace, The Return of the King © J.R.R. Tolkien, Grafton Books, 1991 © FHEL 2023

Old poetic and mythological influences
Referring to the old poetic and mythological influences such as the Eddas, the Kalevala, the Song of the Nibelungs, and Beowulf, as well as the Arthurian legends, these illustrations show us to what degree the richness of Tolkien’s works of fiction and of the medieval imaginary world have their roots in echoes of those distant times, sometimes written with runes, or narrated by a bard in an unknown language.

Tolkien contributed to the transmission of that legacy by composing with genius a unique and original mythology that has become, throughout the world, the iconic reference to the medieval imagination.

Alongside Howe's originals are giant enlargements of the images, plunging visitors into Middle Earth.

"Tolkien wrote with images, he didn’t really write with words, and there are hardly any writers capable of conjuring up images with such force.  It represents a challenge to reproduce on a canvas, because what the author didn’t write ends up being as important as what he mentioned." John Howe

The exhibition, which also includes a selection of paintings and authentic historical accessories (armour, swords),  offers an original pictorial, cultural and playful vision of Tolkien’s universe and the myths that inspired it.

The exhibition trail (12 steps) is also punctuated with works of art contemporary to Tolkien, like those from the Pre-Raphaelite movement - opposed to the British classic conformism, and mainly inspired by medieval imagery - as well as from the Arts and Crafts movement.

The exhibition is conceived by Diane and Jean-Jacques Launier, founders of the Musée Art Ludique in Paris.

Gandalf © Lord of the Rings Boardgame, Reiner Knizia © Sophisticated Games, 1999 © FHEL 2023


More information:

Following the Trails of Tolkien and the Medieval imaginary World, painting and drawings of John Howe

From 25 June 2023 to 28 January 2024

Fonds pour la Culture Hélène et Édouard Leclerc - AUX CAPUCINS - 29800 LANDERNEAU

T +33 (0)2 29 62 47 78


The Bridge of Khazad-Dûm Illustration © Sophisticated Games / Middle-earth Enterprises
The Barrow-downs © A Middle-Earth Traveller, John Howe © HarperCollinsPublishers, 2019 © FHEL 2023.
The Dark Tower, The Tolkien Calendar, 1991 © Allen _ Unwin, 1990 © FHEL 2023
The Forest Realm, Concept art pour The Hobbit trilogy directed by Peter Jackson © FHEL 2023
The Fall of Gondolin, The Silmarillion © J.R.R. Tolkien, Grafton Books, 1992 © FHEL 2023
The Doors of Heorot, 2007 © Beowulf A Tale of Blood, Heat, and Ashes de Nicky Raven © Templar Publishing © FHEL 2023
Bilbo's Front Hall, There and back again, The Map of The Hobbit © Brian Sibley © HarperCollinsPublishers, 1995 © FHEL 2023


Downloadable resources ready to use in class
> Tolkien, War and Fellowship