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Preview event for the Festival in the Shire at Machynlleth – March 26th – 28th.

The free entry Preview event was held at the Wynstay Hotel in the centre of Machynlleth from the Friday to the Sunday, and showcased the art of Rodney Matthews, Peter Prakownik and his wife Nicola, Ruth Lacon and Stephen Walsh. Almost all the downstairs of the hotel was filled with artworks, but most especially the 2 large dining rooms at the front of the hotel.

It was a very pleasant weekend being able to show the people in the area the art of these artists which is in so many different styles. It was also a good opportunity for the artists to meet one another. We had Colin Duriez and his wife visit and get to know the artists as well. The biggest surprise for me was meeting up with a very old and dear friend from many years ago in the Tolkien Society – Tony and his wife, and I shall certainly look forward to seeing them at the Festival.

Stephen Walsh and his wife came from near Manchester, and Colin Duriez from the Lake District, but probably the award to the furthest distance travelled has to be to Peter Prakownik who drove seven hours up from Tintagel to be there.

The art on display was quite astounding. Various mediums are being used by the artists; watercolours, gouache, acrylic, oils. Some of Rodney Matthews’ pieces which we all instantly recognised from years ago were very large and impressive. The subjects covered by the artists were also wide ranging – Tolkien inspired, of course, but also Arthurian and straight fantasy, Alice in Wonderland, and Modern Art.

There was a steady stream of visitors to the Preview event over the three days, including a local resident artist who brought some of his work for us to see – Carl Utteridge was very interesting to talk to and his art was quite lovely.

What do I take away from the event itself? A sense of fellowship and friendship – new friends made and old ones rediscovered. A truly Tolkienian experience and a hopeful pointer to how the Festival of the Shire will feel.

Alex Lewis.

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