The Green Man

 Green Men on a green Wall Here in the Berkshires, the hallway between the living room and our porch holds a modest collection Green Men.  These foliate faces fascinate me.  Above, on the right, is a gold painted wooden replica of a Green Man in Norwich Cathedral in the UK.

 Green Man Norwich CathedralI saw this in the Cathedral gift shop in 1997 but passed it by.  Fast forward to 2005, I was back in Norwich Cathedral again and ready to buy this to start a collection of Green Men.  The Cathedral is famous for polychrome roof bosses, little wooden sculptures at the joins of the ceiling banding (technical term).  Check them out at:

www.english.cam.ac.uk/medieval/result.php?…Norwich+roof+bosses

Green man in Norwich The Green Man was a pagan symbol of fertility and resurrection.  It was incorporated into Christian churches and secular architecture all over Europe.

Green Men on the WallFor my small group I wanted as much variety as I could find.  Many Green Man look-alikes are often Bacchus or Mars.  The brown one on the bottom is more Mars than Green Man.

Green Man smilingWhy is this man smiling when there are leaves growing out of his face?   Green Men are sometimes just a face looking through a lot of foliage or fully adorned with leaves such as this rather otherwise realistic man.

Green ManThe more interesting ones have more stylized the leaves emerging from eyes, nose and sometimes the mouth.  Some Green Men have foliage that is even more dense and wild.

 Green Man Metropolitan MuseumA replica of a wooden Green Man, dare I say he is a little older?  This one is in a kind of resin and came from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan with an accompanying book.  The Arts and Crafts Movement of the 19C saw a revival of interest in this motif.

Green Man on a tileImages turn up on other surfaces like this tile.  Think of frozen peas – the Jolly Green Giant is a Green Man!

Banksia Man by Graham Wilson

Banksia Man by Graham Wilson

The more unusual and unexpected images make the most interesting Green Men.  This is a contemporary sculpture by Australian artist Graham Wilson featuring Australian foliage.  Really delightful.

Cheers!

 

About Susan

Susan Detjens is a former landscape painter, she lectures, demonstrates and runs workshops on floral design for museums, horticultural organizations and garden clubs across the US.
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