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The Art of John Howe: Journeys through the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien

Fantasy artist John Howe's artwork will be showcased for the first time in Finland in a comprehensive solo art exhibition.

Date 06.07.2024 10.00 - 18.08.2024 17.00

VenueTampere Hall, Park Hall

John Howe, "The Eye of Sauron", 2002, muste ja akvarelli paperille, alkuperäinen julkaisija Highbridge Audio.


The exhibition runs from 6 July until 18 August 2024, with the following opening hours:

Mon Closed
Tue–Fri 10 am–6 pm
Sat–Sun 10 am–5 pm

Wizards, dragons, and Rings of Power – Tampere Hall to showcase top fantasy artist John Howe’s first Finnish art exhibition in the summer

Internationally acclaimed fantasy artist John Howe’s artwork will be showcased for the first time in Finland in a comprehensive solo art exhibition. Especially known for his artwork portraying J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy worlds, Howe’s art exhibition will be open at Tampere Hall from July 6th to August 18th, 2024. The exhibition will feature over 250 original artworks spanning the artist’s extensive career.

For fans of the magnificent imaginary worlds created by the English fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien, there are twice as many attractions to look forward to at Tampere Hall this year. In addition to the theatrical premiere of The Lord of the Rings in August, visitors will have the opportunity to explore the wonders of Middle-earth already in July when the art exhibition of Canadian book illustrator and concept artist John Howe (b. 1957) is showcased for the first time in Finland. The Art of John Howe: Journeys through the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien exhibition features over 250 original drawings and paintings by Howe.

John Howe, originally from Vancouver, Canada, is one of the world’s most renowned illustrators of fantasy literature and particularly famous for his illustrations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. He has illustrated numerous books, posters, maps, calendars, and board games set in the imaginative world of Middle-earth. As chief conceptual designer, Howe played a determining role alongside illustrator Alan Lee in shaping the visual aesthetics of director Peter Jackson’s acclaimed The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies on the big screen from 2001 to 2014.

“I have always been deeply interested in history, art, and architecture, and I had been drawing and painting pictures based on Tolkien’s stories long before I became a professional. Growing up in rural Canada, fantasy literature provided a portal to another dimension and fired my imagination. Tolkien’s is a particularly cohesive, rich, and exciting world with layer upon layer of story. To this day, I have not grown tired of wandering in Middle-earth with my sketchbook under my arm,” Howe explains.

Howe studied illustration in Strasbourg, France, and currently resides in Switzerland. In addition to Middle-earth, Howe has illustrated famous fantasy worlds created by authors such as Robin Hobb, Terry Pratchett, and George R. R. Martin, as well as many children’s books and his own works. Howe also contributed to the concept design of the film adaptation of C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), and has worked in recent years as concept artist for the fantasy series The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power (2022–) as well as the upcoming anime fantasy film The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim, scheduled to be released in December 2024.

Meet the artist at Tampere Hall

John Howe will meet fans during the first weekend of the exhibition. The artist will officially open the exhibition on Saturday, July 6th at 10 am and will be among the first visitors to explore it.

At the exhibition shop, books, posters, cards, and other items illustrated by Howe will be available for purchase. Visitors can ask the artist to sign these items. You can also bring your own book or other item for him to sign.

Howe will be signing autographs and taking photos with visitors at Tampere Hall’s Winter Garden at the following times:

Saturday, July 6th:

from 10:45 am to 12 pm, 1 pm to 2 pm, and 3 pm to 4 pm

Sunday, July 7th:

from 11 am to 12 pm, 1 pm to 2 pm, and 3 pm to 4 pm

Autographs and photos are free for exhibition visitors. We expect a large number of people, and unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that everyone will get a chance to meet the artist. Please be considerate of other visitors’ time and handle your signing session efficiently.

Additionally, Howe will participate in a discussion panel at Tampere Hall’s Small Auditorium on Tuesday, July 9th, starting at 4 pm. The topic of the discussion is “Tolkien as an Inspiration for Art.” Howe will be joined by the Artistic Director and CEO of Tampere Theatre and the director of The Lord of the Rings play, which premieres at Tampere Hall in August, Mikko Kanninen. The remaining panelists will be announced later. Admission to the event is free.

Delightful treats and souvenirs for Tolkien fans

Visitors to the summer exhibition can enjoy refreshments at the café located in the exhibition area, offering savory and sweet snacks inspired by the flavors of Middle-earth. For a more extensive dining experience, head to Restaurant Tuhto next to Tampere Hall’s main lobby.

A Tolkien fan’s summer day culminates at the pop-up shop in the art exhibition, where you can purchase books, maps, and games illustrated by John Howe, merchandise from the world of The Lord of the Rings, themed decor items, and delightful souvenirs for the little ones.

Imaginative realism

Howe is known for his impressive depictions of characters, landscapes, and architecture. The techniques he employs vary from detailed graphite drawings to delicate aquarelle paintings. The exhibition showcases the artist’s work throughout his career and highlights how the roots of fantasy literature extend through early myth and medieval legend, as well as to national epics such as Finland’s very own Kalevala.

Howe defines his approach to fantasy art as imaginative realism, blending historical accuracy (he was involved in serious medieval re-enactment for many years) and inspiration from nature, myth, and legend, whether it is creating Beowulf’s hall of Heorot, King Arthur’s castle Camelot, or modern fantasy realms. His passion for fantastical realism is also nourished by an abiding interest in art history, notably the Pre-Raphaelites and Symbolists.

“I am very excited to see my artwork exhibited in Finland, the birthplace of Kalevala. I am a huge admirer of the work of the Finnish symbolist Akseli Gallen-Kallela, and had the pleasure of visiting his museum outside Helsinki. I also admire the sculptor Emil Wikström, whose Lantern Bearers stand outside the main railway station. I’m also familiar with artists like Väinö Blomstedt, Hugo Simberg, and Eero Järnefelt, though Gallen-Kallela remains my favourite,” Howe reveals and adds: “My only trip to Finland was a very brief one, for a documentary film shoot. I’m very much looking forward to coming back.”

The art exhibition has been curated in collaboration with the artist by Diane and Jean-Jacques Launier, the founders of the Art Ludique museum in Paris. The exhibition was first displayed from June of last year until January of this year at the Hélène and Edouard Leclerc centre for contemporary art in Landerneau, France, where it was admired by over 120,000 delighted visitors. The exhibition at Tampere Hall is designed by exhibition architect Taina Väisänen.

Tickets for the exhibition are on sale at Tampere Hall and ticket sales channels. The exhibition is open from July 6th to August 18th on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 10am to 6pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 5pm. It is closed on Mondays. Ticket sales end an hour before closing time. 

The exhibition is suitable for the whole family. The entrance fee starts from €20 for adults and from €18 for students, pensioners, the unemployed, and children (aged 5–16). A family ticket costing €65 is also available, allowing entrance for 2 adults and 2–4 children. Children under the age of 5 enter for free.

Production by Tampere Hall


If your party includes 10 or more people
you can ask for a group offer:
tel. 03 243 4501 (Mon to Fri from 10 am to 4 pm)

Courtyard by Marriott Tampere City, Visit Tampere Laura Vanzo
Kuva: Laura Vanzo, Visit Tampere

Complement your experience by staying under the same roof

The Courtyard Tampere City hotel, attached to Tampere Hall, offers the perfect experience. When you book accommodation for your visit through us, you get partner rates. Welcome to enjoy yourself!

Photo: Laura Vanzo, Visit Tampere