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Gawain and the Green Knight: Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Crown of Leaves. Gouache and pencil on gessoed board.© Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Crown of Leaves. Gouache and pencil on gessoed board. © Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Gawain and the Green Knight: Clive Hicks-Jenkins and the Penfold Press

The Martin Tinney Gallery, Cardiff

Thursday 8th Sept – Saturday 1st Oct, 2016

In collaboration with Dan Bugg of Penfold Press, Clive Hicks-Jenkins is devising a series of fourteen prints based on the medieval verse drama, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – a classic vividly translated for the 21st century by Simon Armitage. The exhibition will present the first seven prints, marking the half-way stage in this major project, together with paintings and drawings on the theme.

Art commentator James Russell writes of the series:

“The story is the kind you might find in The Mabinogion. Sir Gawain is more human than your average legendary hero. Having taken up the challenge offered at the Camelot Christmas feast by the terrifying Green Knight, he embarks on a quest to find this ogre, only to be tested – and found wanting – in unexpected ways. Sir Gawain is both a glittering knight and a fallible young man, and it is this flawed human character that intrigues Clive. Each print is inspired by the text and rooted stylistically in its world, but beyond that Clive and Dan have allowed their imagination free rein.”

You can find more information on Clive’s website: http://www.hicks-jenkins.com

The Green Knight's Head Lives. Screenprint. Edition of 75 © Clive Hicks-Jenkins

The Green Knight’s Head Lives. Screenprint. Edition of 75 © Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Sightings: Eaton Under Heywood, Shropshire

St Edith's Church, Eaton Under Heywood, Shropshire copyright ©  Derek Penrose

St Edith’s Church, Eaton Under Heywood, Shropshire copyright © Derek Penrose

 

My thanks to Derek Penrose for the wonderful photographs he has been sending in recently of Green Men he has spotted on his summer travels. These two wonderful faces are from St Edith’s Church, Eaton Under Heywood deep in the Shropshire Hills.

I’m always grateful for any new sightings, photographs or verifications for the Gazetteer and the Flickr photographic archive. Please use the contact tab above to get in touch.

Any new sightings or verifications are added to the gazetteer and the finder/verifiers name is always detailed (unless they prefer to remain anonymous).

Copyright for any pictures added to our Flickr archive always remains with the original photographer as does full control over how the pictures are used. I will never use anybody’s images for any commercial use without full written permission. occasionally I get requests to use pictures for books, magazines etc. and these requests are passed directly on to the original photographer so that they can benefit from their own work.

You can visit our Flickr archive HERE

 

St Edith's Church, Eaton Under Heywood, Shropshire copyright ©  Derek Penrose

St Edith’s Church, Eaton Under Heywood, Shropshire copyright © Derek Penrose

The Carshalton Straw Jack

Carshalton Straw Jack 2015 © Pixyled Publications

Carshalton Straw Jack 2015 © Pixyled Publications

It’s been a great year for the traditional Jack in the Green with 21 confirmed so far. The Nottingham Pagan Pride Parade is taking place today and I would love to hear from anyone who can confirm if a Jack-in-the-Green is sighted at all. The Carshalton Straw Jack will be parading on Saturday 3rd September this year. A Celebration of Harvest the Carshalton Straw Jack is ritually stripped in the evening so that all present can take a keepsake and then he is burnt in a brazier. It is hoped that he will be burnt as a complete figure one year. For more details about the route the Jack will take their website is: www.strawjack.co.uk

Carshalton Straw Jack 2015 © Pixyled Publications

Carshalton Straw Jack 2015 © Pixyled Publications

The Green Man: A powerful image lives on – Muriel Fraser

We all know how fast and far a good tune can travel. Shortly after the haunting melody of “Lili Marleen” was heard broadcast to among German troops in WWII, it was eagerly adopted by Allied ones. And think, too, of the travels of a song which began as “God preserve Franz the Kaiser”. This lovely tune by Haydn was recycled as “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles” and eventually appeared as the hymn, “God who touches earth with beauty”.

Just as a catchy tune travels, so does a powerful image. The ornate leaf masks or foliated heads, now often called the “Green Man”, were developed by Roman artists in connection with nature gods like Dionysus and the satyrs. But this image was too good to end with Roman paganism. In the Middle Ages, as the pageants of chivalry became widespread, Green Men appear with increasing frequency in Christian churches, too.

A clue to this is offered by a ritual from 16th-century Sweden. There we find a May Day jousting contest between Winter and Summer. The idea was to dramatise — and help advance — the coming of spring. The two sides in the tournament were clothed accordingly. Duke Winter was “clad in various pelts and armed with pokers, scattering ice and snowballs to prolong the cold”. His opponent, Count Floral, was “garbed in the green boughs of trees, together with leaves and flowers”. Of course, whatever the weather on the day of the tournament, “and to everyone’s joy, the victory is awarded to Summer”. [1]

This gives us a glimpse into the mediaeval meaning of faces decked with foliage. No longer were they Roman gods, but harbingers of spring. And, of course, spring in the metaphorical sense, was a central theme in Christianity. It applied to both the rebirth of the soul in heaven and the general Resurrection of the Dead. As such, the foliated head had a firm claim to its place in Christian churches.

But the transformations didn’t end there. The Green Man could represent, not only the resurrection of the soul, but also the rebirth of the Christianity during the Reformation. This seems to be why the Reformers adopted it initially. (However, they soon backed off from this transformed satyr. After all, they were the ones who liked to accuse the Catholic Church of being “pagan”.)  But at first, presumably as a symbol of the rebirth of the church, a Green Man appears in a portrait of Martin Luther by Cranach the Elder, also on the title page of Luther’s petition to the Papal Council in 1520, and even in his church in Wittenburg. [2]

Mediaeval people loved symbols precisely because they regarded them as having magic power. This symbol is simple, vivid, and closely connected to people’s hopes and fears: to their longing for the return of the sun — to a “springtime” through resurrection — and, for some, to a new and reformed Christianity. It’s no wonder that the Green Man, in its various guises, survived for two millenia.

1. Olaus Magnus, Description of the Northern Peoples (1555), Volume 2, 15:9.
2. Clive Hicks, http://www.geomantie.net/article/read/6093.html

The Company of the Green Man e-newsletter 14

The Company of the Green Man’s fourteenth e-newsletter has just been published and is available for members to download via the members area tab at the top of this page. If you are a member you should receive an e-mail via MailChimp with details of how to access the  e-newsletter. If not please don’t hesitate to contact me using the “contact us” tab above.

If you would like to join The Company of the Green Man  (it’s free) just use the “join us” tab at the top of this page.

Oxford 2016 Jack in the Green

Highworth Jack in the Green 2016 © Tim Healey

Oxford Jack in the Green 2016 © Tim Healey

My thanks to Tim Healey for permission to use the great pictures of the 2016 Oxford Jack-in-the-Green that accompany this post. Tims website devoted to May Morning in Oxford can be found at: www.maymorning.co.uk


The Oxford Jack-in-the-Green was revived in 1951. It appears every year in Oxford on May Morning. OUMM (Oxford University Morris Men) introduced Jack-in-the-Green to their May Morning festivities in 1951. At that time they were unaware that a Jack-in-the-Green was a common sight in and around Oxford in the 19th century.  The Oxford Jack is usually first seen near Magdalen Tower just before 6am and leads an informal procession up ‘The High’ to Radcliffe Square, where the first dance of the day: “Bonny Green” from Bucknell, starts at about 6.25am. Jack then moves  through New College Lane and Broad Street, concluding with a massed ‘Bonny Green Garters’ outside St. John’s College in St. Giles around 8.30am. After breakfast the University & City Men usually take Jack to a display for the children of St. Ebbe’s school when May Morning falls on a weekday.

It has long been my hope to be able to obtain at least one picture of every Jack that goes out across the UK (and beyond) each year to add to our online Flickr archive and provide a visual record of this wonderful tradition for generations to come. At least twenty one Jacks went out this year and I’m extremely grateful to everyone who has helped me to gather pictures of thirteen Jacks so far.

I’m still trying to track down pictures of eight Jacks from this year. If you can help and have the copyright owners permission please get in contact via the ‘Contact us’ tab at the top of this blog. Copyright of any pictures added to our archive always remains with the original photographer and pictures are only ever used with permission of the copyright owner.

The eight Jacks I’m still looking for pictures of from 2016 are:

  • Ilfracombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • Knutsford Jack-in-the-Green
  • Yaxley Jack-in-the-Green
  • Brentham Jack-in-the-Green
  • Bovey Tracey/Grimspound Morris Jack-in-the-Green
  • Kentwell Hall Jack O’Green
  • Wythenshawe Hall Jack ‘O’ Green

If you haven’t seen a Jack-in-the-Green yet this year there is still at least one more to come. The Carshalton Straw Jack is a celebration of Harvest that takes place in September each year. The straw Jack is ritually stripped in the evening so that all present can take a keepsake and then he is burnt in a brazier. It is hoped that he will be burnt as a complete figure one year. The date for this event is still to be confirmed but you can visit the website here: Carshalton Straw Jack

Highworth Jack in the Green 2016 © Tim Healey

Oxford Jack in the Green 2016 © Tim Healey

Highworth 2016 Jack-in-the-Green

Highworth Jack in the Green 2016 © Terry Portsmith

© Terry Portsmith – Highworth 2016 Jack-in-the-Green

My thanks to Terry Portsmith for permission to use the picture above of this years Highworth Jack-in-the-Green, and my thanks to Paul Baskerville of the Bang to Rites Drummers for sourcing it for us.

The Highworth Jack in the Green was started in 2006 when the Wiltshire town celebrated the 800th anniversary of it’s market charter on 22nd April 2006. The Highworth Jack in the Green is now an annual tradition as part of the annual May Market. The Jack is accompanied by the Bang to Rites Drummers a group of community based performance drummers, based around the borders of Wiltshire, Oxfordshire & Gloucestershire who formed in the summer of 2013.

It has long been my hope to be able to obtain at least one picture of every Jack that goes out across the UK (and beyond) each year to add to our online Flickr archive and provide a visual record of this wonderful tradition for generations to come. At least twenty one Jacks went out this year and I’m extremely grateful to everyone who has helped me to gather pictures of thirteen Jacks so far.

I’m still trying to track down pictures of eight Jacks from this year. If you can help and have the copyright owners permission please get in contact via the ‘Contact us’ tab at the top of this blog. Copyright of any pictures added to our archive always remains with the original photographer and pictures are only ever used with permission of the copyright owner.

The eight Jacks I’m still looking for pictures of from 2016 are:

  • Ilfracombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • Knutsford Jack-in-the-Green
  • Yaxley Jack-in-the-Green
  • Brentham Jack-in-the-Green
  • Bovey Tracey/Grimspound Morris Jack-in-the-Green
  • Kentwell Hall Jack O’Green
  • Wythenshawe Hall Jack ‘O’ Green

If you haven’t seen a Jack-in-the-Green yet this year there is still at least one more to come. The Carshalton Straw Jack is a celebration of Harvest that takes place in September each year. The straw Jack is ritually stripped in the evening so that all present can take a keepsake and then he is burnt in a brazier. It is hoped that he will be burnt as a complete figure one year. The date for this event is still to be confirmed but you can visit the website here: Carshalton Straw Jack

Guildford Jack-in-the-Green

Guildford 2016 Jack-in-the-Green © Jodi Bailey

Guildford 2016 Jack-in-the-Green © Jodi Bailey

Many thanks to Jodi Bailey for these fantastic pictures of this years Guildford Jack-in-the-Green.

The Guildford Jack-in-the-Green was revived in 1976. Known as The Guildford Bush, this Jack is accompanied by the Pilgrim Morris Men of Guildford during the annual Summerpole all day event in Guildford. They meet at the bottom of the High street and process to Holy Trinity Church with the Maypole. The Maypole is erected on Castle Green and the dancing involving guest Morris sides begins. This Jack was revived in 1976 by Pilgrim Morris. For many years the Jack was carried by folklorist  George Frampton. Pilgrim Morris were founded in 1972, during the summer months they dance around Surrey and north-east Hampshire, and occasionally further afield. The Guildford Jack is built from Laurel and usually stands just ten inches higher than the occupant who is “Usually somebody of less than average height.” “The activity of the bush depends on the inclination of the carrier. Sometimes it gets in the way of the dancers and entertains the public and at other times it just stands around”

It has long been my hope to be able to obtain at least one picture of every Jack that goes out across the UK each year to add to our online Flickr archive and provide a visual record of this wonderful tradition for generations to come.

I’m still trying to track down pictures of a number of Jacks from this year. If you can help and have the copyright owners permission please get in contact via the ‘Contact us’ tab at the top of this blog. Copyright of any pictures added to our archive always remains with the original photographer and pictures are only ever used with permission of the copyright owner.

The Jacks I’m still looking for pictures of from 2016 are:

  • Ilfracombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • Knutsford Jack-in-the-Green
  • Yaxley Jack-in-the-Green
  • Brentham Jack-in-the-Green
  • Bovey Tracey/Grimspound Morris Jack-in-the-Green
  • Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green
  • Kentwell Hall Jack O’Green
  • Wythenshawe Hall Jack ‘O’ Green
Guildford 2016 Jack-in-the-Green © Jodi Bailey

Guildford 2016 Jack-in-the-Green © Jodi Bailey

Whitstable Jack in the Green 2016

Whitstable 2016 Jack-in-the-Green © Joe Eddington

Whitstable 2016 Jack-in-the-Green © Joe Eddington

I am indebted to all those who have sent in pictures of this years Jacks. The pictures accompanying this post are of the wonderful Whitstable Jack-in-the-Green, thanks to Joe Eddington for the photographs and to Dixie Lee for getting them to me.

A Jack-in-the-Green was revived for the Whitstable Folk Festival in 1976 and is now central to the Whitstable May Day celebrations. The Jack is supported by Oyster Morris who also have their own Green Man who combines the roles of Jester and announcer dressed in white and green.  The Whitstable Jack is accompanied by two attendants dressed as Robin Hood and Maid Marian. Dixie Lee one of the original organisers said in 1992 “At the time it just seemed like the Jack was looking for a reason to come out again, and I must say that every year when Jack makes his appearance on the street I get such a feeling of power from him that I know it was the right thing to do” The Whitstable Times of 4th May 1895 included a report about a Jack in the Green catching fire on Whitstable High Street. Stephen Penn was in the Jack “encased in a pyramid of evergreens covered with thin colour paper…. “Jack” thought he would have a pipe and proceeded to light up” A spark from the pipe ascended to the upper part of the casing and caught alight. “He was instantly enveloped in flames” Fortunately the evergreens seem to have protected him and he only had his whiskers burnt off. His son Stephen Penn Jnr. however became ignited whilst attempting to help his father and was badly burnt, he was treated by the newly formed ambulance corps. A story circulated in 1977 that in 1912 the Whitstable Jack in the Green caught fire and the man inside burnt to death putting a stop to the tradition. There is no evidence of this and perhaps it is more than likely that the writer was in fact referring to the 1895 incident and perhaps embellishing it with their own memories of the 1973 film “The Wicker Man” for dramatic effect. In May 2016 Dixie Lee informed me of an addition to this story from a local lady that she knows well. Her Grandmother (whilst heavily pregnant) was walking to the shops when see saw the Jack catch fire. This caused such a shock that she went into labour. The result was a baby girl called May. May seems to have been unaffected by the incident and lived to the ripe old age of 99!

It has long been my hope to be able to obtain at least one picture of every Jack that goes out across the UK each year to add to our online Flickr archive and provide a visual record of this wonderful tradition for generations to come.

I’m still trying to track down pictures of a number of Jacks from this year. If you can help and have the copyright owners permission please get in contact via the ‘Contact us’ tab at the top of this blog. Copyright of any pictures added to our archive always remains with the original photographer and pictures are only ever used with permission of the copyright owner.

The Jacks I’m still looking for pictures of from 2016 are:

  • Ilfracombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • Knutsford Jack-in-the-Green
  • Yaxley Jack-in-the-Green
  • Brentham Jack-in-the-Green
  • Bovey Tracey/Grimspound Morris Jack-in-the-Green
  • Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green
  • Kentwell Hall Jack O’Green
  • Wythenshawe Hall Jack ‘O’ Green
Whitstable 2016 Jack-in-the-Green © Joe Eddington

Whitstable 2016 Jack-in-the-Green © Joe Eddington

Dead Horse Morris Jack-in-the-Green 2016

Dead Horse Morris Jack-in-the-Green 2016 © Dead Horse Morris

Dead Horse Morris Jack-in-the-Green 2016 © Dead Horse Morris

Thanks to Dead Horse Morris for the wonderful pictures above and below of their Jack-in-the-Green seeing in a beautiful dawn on Sunday 1st May 2016, on Whitstable Sea Front joined by the Lord Mayor of Canterbury, Cllr. Sally Waters and her escort.

I’m very grateful to everyone who has confirmed sightings and sent in some fantastic photographs of this years Jacks-in-the-Green. I’ll be posting plenty more pictures of this years Jacks in the weeks to come both here and on our Flickr Archive

It has long been my hope to be able to obtain at least one picture of every Jack that goes out across the UK each year to add to our online Flickr archive and provide a visual record of this wonderful tradition for generations to come.

I’m still trying to track down pictures of a number of Jacks from this year. If you can help and have the copyright owners permission please get in contact via the ‘Contact us’ tab at the top of this blog. Copyright of any pictures added to our archive always remains with the original photographer and pictures are only ever used with permission of the copyright owner.

I’m still trying to track down pictures of the following Jacks from this year:

  • Whitstable Jack-in-the-Green
  • Ilfracombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • Winchcombe Jack-in-the-Green
  • Knutsford Jack-in-the-Green
  • Bovey Tracey/Grimspound Morris Jack-in-the-Green
  • Hever Castle Jack-in-the-Green
  • Kentwell Hall Jack O’Green
  • Wythenshawe Hall Jack ‘O’ Green
Dead Horse Morris Jack-in-the-Green 2016 © Dead Horse Morris

Dead Horse Morris Jack-in-the-Green 2016 © Dead Horse Morris

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