Saturday, 20 June 2009

Alan Lee Autograph Session at Weta Cave

Another great day! The third autograph session here in Wellington at the Weta Cave in about a month! First, the designer of all the bad guys in LOTR (generally speaking), John Howe. Next, Guillermo del Toro, who will lead us all back to Middle-earth one more time, and finally, Alan Lee, the designer of all things good under the Middle-earth sun. One of his favourite places in Lord Of The Rings was Rivendell, a place I now have the pleasure of visiting on a daily basis. I don't think I'm speaking out of place when I say that Alan Lee's designs hold a very special place in most LOTR fan's hearts, whether they know his name or not.

I was a bit rushed off my feet getting the day organised, what with picking up my good friend Mark Fry from the railway station, dropping my son off at soccer practice before the game, getting to Alan Lee's session in time before the crowds showed up, and getting back in time to watch the second half of the soccer game. Still, it all worked out in the end, quite nicely in fact. As a good parent, I'm supposed to say that the best part of the day was the soccer game, of course. Rain and (almost) sub-zero temperatures or not.

So call me a bad parent - the game was a close second, but it was great meeting Alan Lee (again). These meetings are always too short but he'll be here for another year or so, so I fully expect (read: hope) to meet with him again before he leaves. Just in case though, I'd brought along my first edition Children Of Hurin, as my LOTR and Hobbit books already had his signature in them.




Also, I brought along another special item - the original hand painted sign of Rivendell that was up at Kaitoke Regional Park, before they were replaced by the new boring ones, the official Department Of Conservation routed timber signs. If you have a copy of Ian Brodie's LOTR Location Guidebook (not the extended one), my sign is on page 50. Keep in mind it's about 2 metes long.



The sign came to me via a kind forest ranger who mentioned it was getting replaced, and the old one was probably going to make it onto the bonfire after the DOC barbecue later that weekend, some three years ago. I rescued it, with kind permission of the ranger. I like to think of the coffee and muffins I brought him as my appreciation, rather than a distraction ruse while I ran off. Either way, it's mine now :)

I had it signed by Richard Taylor the same year, at a Wellington book signing event at Dymocks Bookshop. Richard laughed out loud when he saw it, and asked me somewhat redundantly where I'd got it from ("Rivendell, fairly obviously"...).

Alan had the same question today, but was also more than happy to sign it.



There's a few other signatures that belong on it - I'd love to add Hugo Weaving to it, and perhaps a few other designers. Daniel Falconer springs to mind (Daniel, if you're reading this, I'd love an invite! The staff at the Cave know how to get a hold of me). Ideally Peter Jackson, of course, but he's not well known for attending public events, especially Wellington public events (Peter, a private event would work for me - name a time and place, and I'll be there with coffee and muffins!) :)

Eventually, I'd like to own a house so I can call it Rivendell, and stick the signs outside (the signed one inside, obviously!)

As an aside, leave me a comment if you've ever named a house, or a pet (or a child!) after something from Professor Tolkien's worlds... I know Carlos from the Weta Cave has two cats name Merry and Pippin, for instance... anyone else?

- Jack M.


PS - if you're wondering why the arrow in my sign points right, and the one in the park points left - there were multiple signs. Yes, I have the others too. Feel free to make me an offer for the other two :)

12 comments:

  1. I have a Corgi named Belladonna, after Bilbo's mum :) And my horse (not my own but the one I ride) his name is Brego

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  2. I've never named anything after LOTR but we are hoping to move next year and I might call our new home Lothlorien.

    By the way we've booked our trip to New Zealand. We fly out on 13th October and reach Auckland on 15th. Hope to sign up for your tour while we are there.

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  3. @Ruth

    Fantastic! I look forward to meeting you in person!

    Actually, what with me owning the Rivendell signs, we have discussed here that if we ever buy a home, we should probably put the signs up and call it Rivendell. :)

    - Jack M.

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  4. Looking forward to meeting you too.What will the weather be like in mid October?

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  5. Around October the weather can be a bit fickle at times (but at least we don't have a monsoon season like a lot of other places).

    It's still kinda the start of spring, so it can go either way.

    Bring sunblock and an umbrella, is my advice!

    - Jack M.

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  6. I'll take your advice, Jack. We will be there until early December so we should get some good weather. At least I hope so.

    How do we go about booking a tour with your company?

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  7. Glad to see your keeping your finger on the pulse of Wellywood Jack, Hey a Rivendell sign would look good in my collection..

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  8. @Ruth

    The simplest way is to go to the website http://www.flatearth.co.nz and book through there. Our money is worth next to nothing at the moment so now is the perfect time to book before the economy goes up again :)

    See, there are advantages to this whole downturn thing!

    - Jack M.

    PS - be sure to mention my name on the form! :)

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  9. @motorau

    The Rivendell sign is mine! My precious! You can't have it!


    I do see the irony of it all though - you've been working so hard to get a sign up to announce the Anduin Reach on your river location, while we have too many signs to the point of throwing them out! :)

    - Jack M.

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  10. Thanks Jack, I'll get on the site tomorrow. I'll certainly mention your name.

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  11. I know of a retreat home in the rural areas of Missouri, USA called Rivendell... and it has Paintings of rivendell all around and many Tolkien books on the many bookshelves!

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  12. @Anonymous
    Awesome name for a retreat house... Here in New Zealand if you take the Wellington ferry to Picton in the South Island and keep driving to Blenheim, you go past a small rural property that has a rough handpainted "Rivendell" sign on the driveway.

    I've always wanted to just drive in and take a look... :)

    - Jack M.

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