'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.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Airspace Gallery, Dialogue Box- 'GREEN/REGEN'

Kate Lynch, 2010

Found lithographs, vinyl on polycarbonate sheets

Window installation, Airspace Gallery, Broad Street, Hanley

‘GREEN’ is an anagram of ‘REGEN’. The circular form of the text allows both of these words to be read and reflects the regenerative cycle of nature and continuity of life. Just as in the natural world, the city is undergoing constant changes involving destruction and renewal; urban regeneration. Regeneration has become a buzz word in the city at this point in time, often abbreviated as ‘regen’.

‘Green’ is also emerging a desirable and fashionable term/ethos within the city, with campaigns for green spaces and environmental improvement, and the rising popularity of allotments and ‘grow your own’.

This organic aesthetic has been diluted into the marketing of many products, with the results sometimes being misleading and false. Concerns about climate change have sparked widespread thinking about sustainability in everyday activity, something that the artist is greatly concerned with. The use of vinyl lettering and plastic, over the artist’s usual choice of natural and sustainable materials, reflects these contradictions. This piece is intended to mimic current shop window displays which take on this ‘green’ aesthetic, providing the public with a familiar, corporate look.

Translucent lithographs and discarded backings in window installation

Therefore the piece raises questions about what is green and abundant in our city. Whilst celebrating positive aspects such as parks and green spaces, it is also about destruction, loss, and what is lacking; the used lithograph backings are lifeless remnants of industry. The anguished face of the ‘Green Man’ emerges from the detritus of the ceramics industry, questioning the sustainability, growth and prosperity of industry and regeneration schemes. The figure of the ‘Green Man’ traditionally represents regeneration of the natural world. Here the artist is reinterpreting this theme to relate to the regeneration of the city, therefore suggesting potential - that it may become abundant and vibrant after the process of urban renewal.

The floral lithographs also remind us of the wild force of nature that takes over derelict land and the habitats that temporarily flourished on nearby wasteland. These overgrown areas provided habitats and flowers for dwindling insects such as bees and butterflies. Now work has commenced on the nearby Tesco site, these areas have been cleared. Images of bees, butterflies and other insects feature in the piece, perhaps as a reminder to plant more beneficial plants in your inner city gardens.