Alan Lee, Ted Nasmith and Jay Jay Johnstone Birmingham UK 2019

Taking inspiration from Byzantine iconography to the great works of Gustav Klimt,  jay works with traditional methods and techniques exploring the relationship of people in literature from the motivations of core characters to the defining inspiration of their creation.
The results are a stunning collection of painting, manuscripts and sculptures that could have been made in the monasteries of Greece in the of Middle ages or in the libraries of Minas Tirith. He exhibits and lectures on his work and some of the very original concepts and ideas that have come from his work.
Jay has been a devote fan of fantasy literature since his youth and an avid collector of his books since reading the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit at college. Jay explained, ‘These Tolkien inspired character paintings are a very personal expression of my passion and love of stories, poems and characters form literature. I have been painting Tolkien themed illustration for around 30 years but only exhibited for the first time in August 2012. My first show at Loughborough University, during the Tolkien Society Return of the Ring convention, was very well received and has led to further shows and lectures across Europe and the US. It has giving the opportunity to travel widely and engage with like minded people”

Excerpt from ‘A companion to JRR Tolkien’, Edited By Steart D. Lee

Taking inspiration from the religious and mythical  under paintings of Middle Earth Johnstone has painted various scenes and characters from the book as if they were religious icons with many recreating the feel of ancient manuscripts. One often wonders what Tolkien would have made of all these interpretations by various artists, but one can assume Johnstone's images would have pleased him. Tolkien was know to draw runes and recreate manuscripts himself, Johnstone's work in that sense is a perfect compliment to Tolkien's History of Middle Earth, presenting a different context to the many others who have attempted to illustrate Tolkien.

Thomas Honegger

Professor of Old English Languages at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany.


I first met Jay Johnstone surrounded by his artwork at the Return of the Ring conference in Loughborough in August 2012 – and was struck by two things.
First, the impact some of his pictures had on my psyche, and second, by Jay’s dedication to his craft. The former can be attributed to the power of his artistic vision and his talent to cast his ideas into a form that speaks directly to the observer’s innermost being.
Yet Jay Johnstone’s pictures also contain no mean degree of ‘craftsmanship’ and conscious thought that finds expression in the symbolism of each painting.
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