'The Green Man' is most commonly represented as a face surrounded by leaves, or with vegetation sprouting from the nose, mouth and head. Sometimes the face is composed entirely from leaves and foliage. Green Men are used as decorative architectural features, usually representing fertility and the regenerative cycle of the seasons.

I am interested in reinterpreting ‘The Green Man’ as symbol of the city of Stoke-on-Trent at this point in time; a motif that not only represents a sense of regeneration and renewal but one that could also be used to bring about changes, by highlighting what is effectively public artwork that already exists.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Faces in Wallpaper

I collect and re-work wallpaper collected from around the city. I began to notice that some of the patterns replicate the foliage and shapes seen on some of the Green Men within the city, so layered the images to align with the patterns and shapes, then blended the face into the pattern. Again, it surprises me how well they seem to fit...

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The Green Men in the images below are from the Market building in Stoke and a building on Percy Street, Hanley. The elements within these wallpaper patterns lend themselves to the 'spewing' effect of the Green Men here, where foliage and vines disgorge from the mouth and sometimes the eyes and ears too. To me it looks like they are speaking- some kind of decorative speech bubble is emerging. I have also noticed that both of these are cat-like forms, one of the types of Green Men recognised; Mike Harding also points out that 'Cats spewing foliage appear in the margins of medieval manuscripts', and the pink artwork in particular has a historical, aged appearance.

Friday, 19 March 2010

What's New?

I have just returned from the preview of 'What's New?'- the 5th Annual Urban Vision North Staffordshire Photographic Competition, held at the Burslem School of Art. The theme invited you to discover ‘What’s New?’ in your environment.

So, with my interpretation of Green Man Symbolising renewal within the city I submitted my photograph 'Symbolism' (also pictured below) which shows one of the Green Men peering down from the columns on the old Market facade in Stoke town centre, now the facade of new Library building which is situated on the old market square behind. I also thought it was interesting that this new building (which is eco-friendly too) is fronted by numerous Green Men...

I was drawn to the juxtaposition of the Green Man with the Stoke-on-Trent city logo and the notion of symbolism and narrative- to me this represented the sense of regeneration occurring all over the city- and on this very building. It also represented the notion of the Green Man peering over our city in a protective, watchful manner.

I was pleased to receive some feedback whilst at the preview, even if it was criticism for the inclusion of the Stoke-on-Trent City logo. This had initially 'Put them off' it, and it transpired that they hadn't even noticed the Green Man in the image! Since that was pointed out to me I have noticed that the city logo would appear to dominate the image and is the first thing that stands out (although this links to the idea of having an 'eye' for the Green Man). I now think I would have been better off forgetting the idea of the narrative and should have simply submitted a close up of this decorative Green Man to represent 'Whats New' or the potential of new things.

The Exhibition at the Burslem School of Art runs until Friday 9th April. If you can't make it to the Exhibition all of the submissions are available to view by clicking here where you can also vote for your favorite image for the 'People's Choice Award'

I voted for 'Broken windows, creative minds' by Ted Simpkin (Click to view) This at first looked like a very strange, negative image especially with the colours red and black and the image of the skull. However look a little closer and it becomes more playful and naive. I spoke to Ted briefly about his image and he told me that this this graffiti was new as the wall had only just been made accessible after a building that stood in front of it was demolished. The characters and hand prints remind me of early cave paintings or aboriginal art but I really just like the simplistic aesthetic of these strange and ghostly little characters.

Monday, 15 March 2010


'green' is an anagram of 'regen'- an abbreviation of the word Regeneration which is heard frequently in the city of Stoke-on-Trent

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Elisabeth Frink 'Green Man' Series, 1992

From Left:
Green Man (blue), Green Man (black), Green Man (grey)

Screenprint (editions of 70),1992, 57x53cm

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Blog title artwork

The artwork featured in the title of this blog is a still shot from an animation I am still working on. The animation is a representation of my favorite Green Man in the city, that can be seen on the Jackson's building, Church Street, Stoke.

The image has been created using elements of wallpaper patterns which I collect from around the city (renovation projects, demolition sites, house clearances etc) Many of these wallpapers were collected from 2005 onwards and have been kept in storage waiting to be used. I couldn't believe how well some of the patterns represented the architectural elements of this panel- especially the green bouquet which forms the Green Man's leafy head and the crescent shaped scrolls.

This notion of things 'slotting into place' is becoming a common occurrence within this project, adding to a sense of mystery and discovery that I have felt from the start- I like to think that the Green man is 'on my side' and that we have entered into some kind of visual dialogue. I can't wait to find out what other suprises are in store.

Getting Acquainted with the Green Man

I caught my first glimpse of the phenomena of the ‘Green Man’ in Stoke-on-Trent about 2 years ago, whilst researching architectural motifs for my Artwork that was part of the ‘Conjunction 08’ Contemporary Art Festival, Stoke-on-Trent.

During this time the website
www.potteries.org became a brilliant resource for my artwork, which involved the collection, reinterpretation and displacement of patterns and motifs from Airspace Gallery (no.4 Broad Street), The Bethesda Chapel, The Regent Theatre, Victoria Hall and The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery.

It was on this website that I stumbled upon an article about the
‘Green man in Stoke on Trent’ and was instantly captivated. Whilst I was aware of the Green Man and his connections with spring time and traditional festivals in Britain, I was fascinated by the thought of the symbol being abundant in our city and the fact that there seemed to be a lot of buildings with his image on in many different forms.

From that point on I began seeing him everywhere; he began ‘appearing’ on many different buildings. Once I had an ‘eye’ for the Green Man it was hard to believe that he had previously remained unnoticed- also because the sculptural panels in which he is found are very beautiful too.

Not only was I excited about this new discovery that was enhancing every visit to town and my bus journey’s to work; but his relevance to our city at this point in time seemed uncanny. The origins and meanings of the Green man have mystified people for centuries. He appears all over Europe and also has origins in India. The most common interpretations are those of fertility, and the processes of death, rebirth and regeneration. More modern interpretations lean towards environmentalism (I will record my ongoing research into these areas in this blog).

However, With the city of Stoke-on-Trent currently undergoing many changes as part of the regeneration process, I am interested in reinterpreting the Green Man as symbol of the city at this point in time; a motif that not only represents the sense of regeneration and renewal but one that could also be used to bring about changes, by highlighting what is effectively public artwork that already exists.