Wedgwood and artists
The Green Man plate
For many decades the National Art Collections Fund has provided a lifeline to the nation’s museums and galleries. The Fund has helped to place works of art in hundreds of public art collections countrywide. In 1989 and again in 1990 the NACF commissioned a collection of contemporary art plates. The plates featured the works of Peter Blake, Patrick Caulfield, Patrick Heron, Bruce McLean, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi and John Piper. This plate features a recurrent image of Piper’s work, the foliate head of The Green Man - a robustly pagan figure from English folklore.
Piper found the inspiration for this image of the foliate head on medieval church roof bosses and column capitals. A great topographical artist Piper painted Britain’s churches, chapels, houses and gardens. He was also known for creating stage sets for a number of Benjamin Britten’s operas and designs for stained glass windows and tapestries as well as many ceramics.
Piper’s partnership with Wedgwood demonstrates how an artist’s vision can be translated into a ceramic piece. The bold brushwork retains its vigour from a distance, but close up has an added delicacy through the many dots created by the silk-screen printing process. Common with all artistic collaborations this piece demonstrates how artists are able to make best use of the ceramic medium.
The Green Man plate is one of a series of six designs commissioned by the National Art Collections Fund. John Piper’s subject is a character originating from ancient English folklore and pagan beliefs. Typifying the energies of spring the Green Man is a robustly virile figure. Piper captures the raw natural power of the figure perfectly.