'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, 30 July 2010

Thursday, 29 July 2010

SHOP preparations- Installation

I began moving work into SHOP today in preparation for the start of residency opening on Saturday.

Reflection of shop logo on the floor- this was on Tuesday when it was sunny

The day started off a bit unlucky- the keys I had wouldn’t go in the lock to open up, it was raining and there was a mistake on the proof print of my map.

However, the day soon picked up. SHOP was really busy. I came with a car load of work to unload and there were a few volunteers who had just arrived and numerous other artists and passers by congregating in the space. I noticed someone had begun writing this on the a-board for outside, I think they stopped when they realised the space was very busy with loads of people and stuff everywhere- and In the end probably thought it best not to advertise the space just yet!

However this still didn’t deter people from coming in and having a nosey, for various reasons-one man was after his curtains that had been left upstairs from when he used to live above the Shop, I had a few visits from friends, and met some new people too. Greg Stephens and Kate Barfield- who introduced themselves as ‘Stoke’s Green Man and Woman!’ and had printed off
this article about their eco-home for me to look at. I was so pleased that Greg thought I would find this interesting, as I have been researching and experimenting with sustainable materials and eco-building methods such as the Cob technique for a few years- this article is truly inspiring and I hope I get the chance to visit their home sometime.

Greg and Kate are Musicians and Greg told me about his interest in local Folklore songs and thinks there will be links with the Green Man to be found in the traditional music of the area- This is a fascinating idea and one we will explore further over the next few weeks.

Towards the end of the day a man called Mr. Statham came to the door asking about the GREEN/REGEN piece I had just installed saying he had seen one in Hanley too, (Airspace). I explained that it was the same piece and told him about my residency. He had jumped off the bus to see it after spotting it from the bus window.

GREEN/REGEN Installed in the SHOP window

He really knew his stuff about the Green Man- a bit of a Green Man spotter- he told me about a few that had existed in Hanley, one on an old Health Service Building that was near Iceland in Hanley (which is opposite the bus station I think) he said this was a really small one measuring about 15x 15 cm tile size but he had noticed it and was sad to see it disappear when the building was demolished. There was also a huge living tree green man sculpture in the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery a few years ago. I’ll be doing a bit more research about both of these. I liked Mr. Statham’s comment that Green Man was ‘an amazing familiar thing’ that everyone recognises and notices from time to time. This kind of feedback is exactly what I’m looking to collate during my time in Shop- to really understand what the Green Man means to our city in terms of Regeneration and how it can be used, there certainly seems to be a bit of a sub-culture of green man spotters emerging already!

He also commented that my window piece looked familiar to him- saying that it was on an album cover…he had a little think and then remembered it was ‘Roy Harper- The Green Man’ I was really pleased to hear him say this as I am a massive Roy Harper fan, which led to another long conversation, and indeed this album cover has been in my mind throughout this project too.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Residency @ SHOP, Stoke- Preparations

Amongst other things I have been creating a Green Man Trail map as part of my Residency at SHOP click here to read more and to find out about free workshops and activities on offer.

Below is the map. My Residency at SHOP starts On Saturday 31st July and runs until 14th August.

Get out there and start exploring the Green Men of Stoke!

Double click on each side of the map to enlarge and print your own copy off, or come into SHOP from Sat 31st July to collect one.

More about the Green Man Trail:
Whilst the Map clearly marks the location of each Green Man, there will still be an element of discovery involved, where the participants may have to spend a minute or two looking up at the facades of buildings to spot the Green Men lurking up there. Some are more obvious than others.

I hope the process of individuals and small groups of people stopping in the town and looking 'up' will generate interest from other passers by who may also respond by looking up and discovering a Green Man for themselves. The notion of finding the Green Men on the buildings will also allow people to re-consider the buildings of Stoke, by looking 'up' beyond the Shop (or empty shop) windows and discovering interesting architectural features that they may have not noticed before- perhaps enhancing their experience of the town.

Questions on the back of the postcards will invite the viewers to consider the faces and the surrounding area- what has this character seen? what expression is he displaying? why is he feeling this way? By asking these questions the Green Man becomes a 'tool' to consult the public and feedback their own views and memories of the town- considering both the towns current state, it's history and hopes for the future.

The information collected will be used to construct a pop-up style book which combine images of the Green Men of Stoke with images depicting the towns past, it's current state and visions for the future- resulting in a document of the town at this moment in time.

Many thanks to Steve Birks, creator of www.thepotteries.org for allowing me to feature some of his information about the Green Men of Stoke (installation dates). Read his Green Man article that inspired me to start this project here http://www.thepotteries.org/architecture/green_man.htm