Artist Re-Envisions National Parks in the Style of Tolkien’s Middle Earth Maps

J.R.R. Tolkien imag­ined Mid­dle-Earth by draw­ing not just from far-flung lands and old myths but the Eng­lish land­scape all around him. Of course, every­one who reads The Lord of the Rings tril­o­gy, let alone the relat­ed books writ­ten by Tolkien as well as his fol­low­ers, has their own way of envi­sion­ing the place, and those who go espe­cial­ly deep may even start see­ing their own, real envi­ron­ments as ver­sions of Mid­dle-Earth. That seems to have hap­pened in the case of Dan Bell, an Eng­lish artist who maps his home­land’s nation­al parks in an artis­tic style sim­i­lar to the one in which Tolkien ren­dered Mid­dle-Earth.

Bell “began read­ing Tolkien’s books when he was 11 or 12 years old, and fell in love with them,” writes The Verge’s Andrew Lip­tak. “In par­tic­u­lar, he was struck by Tolkien’s maps.” To start, he “works from an open source Ord­nance Sur­vey map, and begins draw­ing by hand,” adding in such addi­tion­al details, not always found in most nation­al parks, as “forests, Hob­bit holes, tow­ers, and cas­tles.” Hav­ing so adapt­ed the nation­al parks of the Unit­ed Kind­gom “as well as places like Oxford, Lon­don, Yel­low­stone Nation­al Park, and George R.R. Martin’s Wes­t­eros,” he’s made them avail­able for pur­chase on his site.

Most of us who first encounter The Lord of the Rings at the age Bell did have sure­ly wished, if only for a moment or two, that we could live in Mid­dle-Earth our­selves. Bel­l’s maps remind us that places like Mid­dle-Earth always come in some way from, and res­onate on some lev­el with, the real Earth on which we have no choice but to live. Much like how the set­tings of sci­ence fic­tion sto­ries, no mat­ter how tech­no­log­i­cal­ly ampli­fied or cul­tur­al­ly twist­ed and turned, always reflect the time of the sto­ry’s com­po­si­tion, thor­ough­ly real­ized fan­ta­sy realms, no mat­ter how fan­tas­ti­cal — how many hob­bit-holes, cas­tles, or Eyes of Sauron with which they may be dot­ted — are nev­er 100 per­cent made up. Just ask the tourist indus­try of New Zealand.

Enter Bel­l’s map col­lec­tion here.

via The Verge

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Map of Mid­dle-Earth Anno­tat­ed by Tolkien Found in a Copy of Lord of the Rings

110 Draw­ings and Paint­ings by J.R.R. Tolkien: Of Mid­dle-Earth and Beyond

The Only Draw­ing from Mau­rice Sendak’s Short-Lived Attempt to Illus­trate The Hob­bit

Sovi­et-Era Illus­tra­tions Of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hob­bit (1976)

226 Ansel Adams Pho­tographs of Great Amer­i­can Nation­al Parks Are Now Online

Down­load 100,000 Pho­tos of 20 Great U.S. Nation­al Parks, Cour­tesy of the U.S. Nation­al Park Ser­vice

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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