The Green Man is an ancient woodland deity.
You might know him as John Barleycorn, Jack-in-the-Green, Robin Goodfellow or Puck.
He seems to exist in humanity's collective folk memory and turns up in cultures throughout the world, down the ages. You’ll see his leafy face on pub signs, or carved into the stones of Christian churches. He’s there in Roman and Egyptian art, and was present in prehistory. Humans need him and his promise of new life.
I’ve painted him numerous times.
In this painting, he comes dancing and playing a tune on his pipe as he awakens the plants and animals into life in the meadow opposite our house. Look out for the fairies among the flowers at the foot of the painting.
It's a magical meadow stuff full of biodiversity, but is threatened with annihilation by property developers. I had to paint the meadow's magic before it disappears under toytown housing.
In my imagination his hat is decorated with ivy and oak leaves, an unfurling fern, and spring flowers. His hair is swirling willow. There’s a wood mouse, a common frog, a grasshopper, a ladybird, and a scarlet tiger moth. A song thrush belts out his awesome tunes, and a swallow has just returned from Africa for the summer. The snows of winter retreat and the moon travels across the sky towards the sun in the merry month of May. His antlers are worn like the amazing Abbots Bromley horn dancers.
It's a painting about hope and the promise of Spring.
As I was painting the Green Man’s Hat it got me thinking about environment issues and I realised I could have taken the composition in an entirely different direction – more of a “call to action”.
Rather than thinking about what the Green Man might wear, I wondered what he would say and think about the current state of the planet? He would surely urge us – each of us individually – to make small changes in our lives. If millions of people made these small differences what an ENORMOUS global difference that would make!
It’s pretty clear that the politicians and powers that be are not interested in environmental matters and the climate emergency. But that doesn’t mean we, The People, shouldn’t try to each take our own small revolutionary steps.
The Green Revolution starts here is a call to action from the ancient woodland spirit himself.
Other paintings of the Green Man include:
|"Forest Green Man"