'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, 13 August 2010

Other Green Men in Stoke

Thanks to David Haden of Creative Stoke and Robert Cochrane for highlighting other Green Men to be seen in Stoke.

Robert Cochrane had taken his hand made Green Man around Stoke to be photographed with Josiah Wedgwood's and Josiah Spode's graves in Stoke Minster Church Yard. The Green Man here is re-visiting a pagan site of worship too, relevant to the origins and history of the symbol- a visiting Green Man, but a Green Man in Stoke none the less. I wonder where else Robert will take his Green Man?

David made me aware that the Shakespeare mosaic on the Old Stoke Library, which I was aware of and pass on a daily basis, features green foliage. This does make him a Green Man, which I had missed! Also, there are many links that can be found with the Green Man in Shakespeare’s writing; he appears as the ‘shrewd and knavish’ Puck in a midsummer nights dream, for example.

Carol Ballard writes about Shakespeare’s links with the Green Man:

‘One of the most interesting aspects of the Green Man is that in Shakespeare's day — and right through the late Victorian period — he was not much more than an architectural stop-gap, capable of being scaled down or grafted on to church architecture or furniture, as if even while being carved into wood or stone he could manifest his shape-changing magic. Yet the Green Man had an almost physical presence, "becoming part of his [Shakespeare's] creative language later to resurface in what was to be perhaps his most popular play, A Midsummer Night's Dream!"

Ballard makes many references to A Midsummer Night's Dream, but it is when she is making less specific references to creativity that her prose becomes most interesting, such as in the following paragraph:

"[The Green Man] makes for a significant study not only for those of anthropological inclination but also for the student of visual arts and creative thinking — for who's to say that the greatest creative mind in the world of English literature did not see a direct parallel to the human condition in this dualistic image representing both death and rebirth...."
Although most of the text of Ballard's small chapbook explores the places where Shakespeare might have made his Green Man "sightings," the more intriguing explorations are those which address the significance of the Green Man to contemporary creative artists.

I am going to do a bit more research about this, and see if I can get hold of a copy of Ballard’s book.

No comments:

Post a Comment