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.