I’ll cover my return journey first, as that was a nightmare I don’t want to cloud the rest of the report. A horror novel could be written about it, but I’ll just throw these out there: Cancelled ICE, 40 degrees outside and 50 in the space between the two train carriages where I was squeezing into the corridor with ten other people who had all been put into a hopelessly overcrowded regional train, and collapsing from the heat and lack of air. So there. Now for the things that will stay with me for far longer, and deserve to, as they were far better.
Photos coming up in the next post! Hopefully today.
I typed this sitting in London Saint Pancras waiting for the Eurostar, looking back at what might just be the most marvellous days of my life. It’s right up there with birthdays and my wedding day. But it was five days, with the former don’t tend to be.
Taking off my name-tag saying “Return of the Ring – Jenny Dolfen – Special Guest” was strangely heartbreaking. It was a visual sign that these wonderful five days were over.
Saturday started with my second workshop, in which I did a demonstration of my watercolour technique. I suppose it was really flattering that there were so many people attending, as the evening before had been long for most – it was the Ceilidh, but I’d been too tired to go. I was to get my own taste of music later though.
Back from the workshop, I spent more time talking to Ted as well as Anke, and I met Verlyn Flieger, author of some of the best secondary literature on Tolkien I’d ever read. I didn’t have my copy of “Splintered Light” with me, but I asked her to sign my Art Show catalogue, which is now a piece very dear to me – it’s got the most beautiful dedications, drawings, and signatures of all those wonderful people I met at Loughborough in it. I talked very briefly to Cor Blok, who is a very charming man but rather shy.
All my art prints were gone at this point (apart from Maedhros tortured; nobody wanted him, I really wonder why) and I spent the afternoon sketching little watercolour pieces of Fingon, Éowyn, and Shaun as a hobbit, as a thank you for offering me the chance to attend this event and for successfully badgering me every time I was about to cancel it all due to transport, schedule, or babysitting problems. I sold a few of the framed prints that were on exhibit in the art show – I wasn’t going to carry them home again – and took a few orders for prints, as well as working out the most fun commission I’ll be likely to have in the near future: a full watercolour of Fëanor drawing the sword on Fingolfin in the halls of Finwë, with some other Noldor looking on. (Damien, the commissioner, was very happy with my suggestion of having Maedhros and Fingon visible beside their fathers.) I also bought a copy of the beautiful illustrated Silmarillion and carried it over for Ted to sign.
In the evening, there was a masquerade with many humorous entries and a few serious ones, one of which featured again my new friend Simo from Finland, in his Elven armour, together with Francesca from Italy as elf-maid. Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of them, but Simo was singing in Finnish, which was really, really fitting too.
After the masquerade, Ted invited me for a drink and we ended up spending the rest of the evening together, talking about art and music and goofing off a lot (“The two returns of the fellowship of tower of the king…” we got no further than that, which was probably for the better). He said he was going to try and put in a good word for me as well as Anke and Kasiopeia in some of the really high places with Harper/Collins, something I had never dared to hope.
Afterwards (after a gigantic all-edible Smaug cake had been brought in and eaten) there was a charity auction, in which a lot of Tolkien memorabilia were sold for a good cause. I’d donated the original painting of “Ancalagon the Black”, who went to Claire Eluned from Wales (who finally taught me the proper pronunciation of a great many things I’d never got exactly right). Ancalagon now holds the honour of having gone for the same price as a copy of the Lord of The Rings Trilogy on Blu-ray hand-signed and sent up from New Zealand by Peter Jackson.
One of my personal highlights on that day (though it wasn’t technically that day any more, being well past midnight) was Ted singing some of the songs that he’d written and composed together with Alex Lewis. You know – I never got why people thought Heavy Metal was supposed to be fitting for Tolkien. I was never that much into the very classical opera-type music either. But Ted and Alex had written a large number of songs to be performed with guitars and sung in different voices, and they did that now, and all that wanted to could join. We sang “The Green Hills of the Shire”, “Queen Beruthiel”, “To the Sea, to the Sea” and a wonderful one of the twelve companions who lost their lives in aiding Beren in his Quest for the Silmaril. I don’t know how long it went on; I went to bed after one on the morning because I was dead on my feet, despite several paints of Coke. Yes, it comes in pints!
Sunday it was leave-taking. (I read “Farewell to Lórien” on the train to London, and that is how I felt.) Jay Johnstone gave me a print of his wonderful work – if you never saw his art, go see it right now – and I actually picked up a CD with the songs Ted and Alex had performed the night before.
So many new impressions, such wonderful days, so many new friends – Shaun and Anke and Ted and Simo and Damien and Lorianne and Francesca and Birgit and Jay and Lyn and Laeg and Meggy and Becky and sooooo many I can’t name.
Can’t wait to see them all again over the next few years on other Tolkien events. :D
Oh my, it’s so lovely to read what a wonderful time you had! very happy for you, and sorry about the terrible ride home. the singing session sounds amazing :) any chance we’re going to see the comission of Feanor drawing his sword against Fingolfin?
Oh! I am very much looking forward to see Fëanor and Fingolfin. I remember reading the scene the first time I read the Silmarillion. It still lingers in the back of my head – in Swedish translation, that very line being quite suitable for it, for some reason.
You may find that, as Tolkien conferences, moots, things, feasts – and whatever names they go under – come, this one was very special. We only have one like this once in about seven years. But the atmosphere at the smaller ones is similar, only – smaller. ‘Artists Alley’? – No thank you!
I was sorry you already left on the Sunday – but like many people you have a life to get back too. I have one too, but it sort of takes second place. I usually stay on till the Dead Orcs Session on things like these. I look forward to meeting you again, maybe at an Oxonmoot, maybe at a Tolkien Thing – or, as you live in the ‘Land van Gulik’, why not here: http://www.hobbit-jahr.de/?lang=de (you might recognise a few people in the pictures).
I am reading and crying; blinking back tears of joy for you and your beautiful art. You and the rest of the Arts Group made this a GREAT event – one that has been literally life altering for me. I did not want to leave – even as I boarded the train, my heart was still in Lufbra with all the fan-tastic people and good fellowships.
I hope that you will be pleased that the remaining four (?) framed prints have gone to the International Tolkien Fellowship as fund raising stock to help underwrite a “United Europe” under the Tolkien banner. Marcel Buelles & Co say “thank you.”
I love and cherish my “Treebeard.” When framed, it will occupy a place of honor and visibiliy on my wall where everyone can see, and it will give me no end of pleasure to tell everyone about the fine young woman that I met at RotR. I will wait with great expectation for any project between you, Anke and Katherine. What a wonder that will be!
Hope to see you very soon!
Thank you so much, Becky!
I’m glad you had such a wonderful time at RotR, Jenny, and had such success too! It was really lovely to meet you and put another face to a name. It was the best Tolkien event I have ever been to and a large part of that was making new friends. Maybe we’ll exhibit together at Oxonmoot one year? Make sure you make lots of prints….. ;-)