Gawain and the Green Knight – Crowdfunding Call

Gawain – diligence and faith by Sue Prince

A one-off arts event is taking place in Leek in November celebrating the links between the Staffordshire Moorlands and the epic medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

This 14th century Arthurian tale features chivalry, romance, temptation and a beheading challenge.  Members of the public will be invited to take part and make their mark in a pictorial retelling of the tale guided by local, internationally known artist Sue Prince.  People will also be able to listen to a talk, eat medieval food and take a guided walk to the stunning Lud’s Church with Gawain specialist Clive Foden.

To support the weekend’s events and make a pledge, please visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/sir-gawain-leek and keep an eye out for updates and further information.  You can follow on Facebook at Sir Gawain and Leek or on Twitter @sirgawainleek.

Most scholars now agree that the unknown author of the Gawain poem came from this area and tell-tale signs of this are not only the local accent and words which appear throughout the work, but also local features, such as The Roaches and Lud’s Church, which figure in the action.  The event is being organised by the Dr Plot’s Lesser Known Leek committee who celebrate the poem each July with a parade through the town, complete with giants, culminating in a re-telling of the tale to delighted crowds.

Before the public workshops, Sue Prince, who lives in Ilam, will teach the skill of painting a ‘bonad’ (a style of narrative folk art in egg tempera) to art students at Leek College, and some will become her expert helpers. Then on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th November, everyone is invited to come to the college, learn the technique and add to Sue’s version of the story: they can even paint a medieval version of themselves along the bottom of the artwork.

Clive Foden, a skilled woodcarver and Gawain specialist, will travel from Norfolk to deliver one of his enthralling talks on the evening of Saturday 17th November at the Foxlowe Arts Centre.  He will discuss the poet’s interest in craftsmanship as well as the unmistakeable landscape clues in the poem. The following day, Sunday 18th, Clive will also lead a guided walk over The Roaches and down into Lud’s Church – the poem’s Chapel in the Green where Gawain meets the Green Knight to submit to beheading!

All the events are free (apart from a small transport cost to the guided walk) and to enable them, a crowdfunding campaign was launched on 24 September (running for four weeks) to raise the £3375 needed. There are lots of exciting rewards in return for sponsorship!

People can choose to be immortalised in this unique artwork by being depicted as a character from the poem, such as Sir Bertilak and his lovely wife, or King Arthur and Guinevere.  Other possibilities are Knights of the Round Table, several courtly ladies, and Morgan le Fay, Arthur’s wicked sister.  There are even a number of mythical beasts like the woodwose. Or perhaps your horse could be Gringolet, or your dog a hunting hound? Other rewards on offer are the opportunity to be a giant and take part in the annual Dr Plot’s celebration as Gawain or the Green Knight. or being taught how to play medieval bagpipes.  But if none of those tempt you, then there you will be able to pledge for copies of Sue Prince’s stunning finished artwork in various forms, or just make a donation, so there’s something for everyone and to suit every pocket!

To support the weekend’s events and make a pledge, please visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/sir-gawain-leek and keep an eye out for updates and further information.  You can follow on Facebook at Sir Gawain and Leek or on Twitter @sirgawainleek.

Background

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of four late 14th century Middle English poems, written in a North West Midland dialect (the others being Pearl, Purity and Patience) and surviving in a single manuscript, held in the British Library. All are thought to have been written by the same unknown author, now known either as the Pearl or the Gawain Poet, believed to have lived and worked around Leek, North Staffordshire. 

For further information

Please contact Lindsay Trevarthen on sirgawainleek@gmail.com or 07989-986672.

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