ANDRÉ DURAND Twenty-First Century Paintings

GREENMAN AT THE LONGMAN by André Durand (2003) (male nude, Green Man, Robin Hood, Wilmington Giant, Anglo-Saxon)



Dimensions: 76 x 76

Oil on linen


Green Man

Your face is hewn from ivy and wolfsbane;
beneath it lies a skull of oak, not bone –
and chlorophyll, not blood, runs through each vein.

Your roots are tangled, earthy and arcane;
each limb from gnarled and ancient forests grown.
Your face is hewn from ivy and wolfsbane.

Do you recall that festival – Beltane –
when winter ends, sap rises, seeds are sown,
and chlorophyll, not blood, runs through each vein?

Although the woodland groves are your domain,
the old ways have been ousted, overthrown.
Your face is hewn from ivy and wolfsbane

and twisted vines sprout from your head, a chain
that reaches back into the past you own –
and chlorophyll, not blood, runs through each vein.

So is your spirit sacred, or profane?
Both young and old, your origins unknown…
Your face is hewn from ivy and wolfsbane,
and chlorophyll, not blood, runs through each vein.

Elizabeth Kay May 2010

The Greenman face stares down at us from the roofs , pillars and doorways of our great cathedrals and churches; he appears on second century Roman columns in Turkey and in Jain temples in Rajasthan The Green Man is found all over England, some parts of Wales and Scotland and a few rare places in Ireland.

On the continent he has been seen and noted in Germany, France, Italy, Holland and is said to be found in Spain, Hungary and Poland. India and Malaysia have their own Green Man and though he doesn’t seem to appear in Native American traditions he can be seen in his modern role as a bringer of fortune on the walls of banks in New York and Chicago.

His roots may go back to the shadow hunters who painted the caves of Lascaux and Altimira and may climb through history, in one of his manifestations through Robin Hood and the Morris Dances of Old England to be chiselled in wood and stone even to this day by men and women who no longer know his story but sense that something old and strong and tremendously important lies behind his leafy mask. One of the earliest English epic poems Gawain and The Green Knight may refer to yet another manifestation of the Green Man as the God that dies and is reborn. He is the Green Man, Jack in the Green, the Old Man of the Woods, Green George and many other things to many other men but one common theme runs through all the disparate images and myths, death and rebirth and the Green that is all life.
The Long Man of Wilmington is the largest hill figure in Britain and one of only two figures representing the human form, the other being the Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset.

Also known as the “Wilmington Giant”, the Long Man is 226 feet high and is thought to have been carved between the Celtic and pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon periods. In 1874 the shape was marked by yellow bricks, later replaced with white concrete blocks. The cache is hidden near the footpath below the figure where there are superb views of the surrounding countryside.