The Green Knight Arrives. Gouache, pencil crayon and collage. Private Collection.
For every one of the fourteen screenprints in the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight series, Clive Hicks-Jenkins made many sketches before producing at least one preparatory painting. Shown here is a series of images documenting the development of The Green Knight's Arrives from original drawings, through to compositional studies and the final full-scale guide made in gouache and pencil. These were completed before the individual screen print and acted as a guide when making the positives.
The screenprints themselves are not slavish copies of these studies; instead, the studies act as a jumping-off point as Clive developed the individual positives needed for the screen print. A careful comparison between the images will show alterations and slight differences in the handling of the subject as well as changes to colour and tone.
Initial compositional sketches for The Green Knight Arrives
"As I explored my options for images to represent the grand narrative of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the task became about finding the spaces between the words. The descriptions of how the Green Knight looks at the moment he rides his horse into the Christmas celebrations are not what motivated me to make images. I was driven more by what underlies the arrival.
The print is essentially a portrait, an intimate close-up to draw the viewer into what's about to be unleashed. Sorcery of the winter variety is afoot, and as though in anticipation of what will one day unfold at Camelot… the seeds of its destruction having been present at its inception… the tower beyond is crowned with flame. Everything must end, everything must fail eventually, and here the Green Knight is the herald and catalyst of what will one day bring about Camelot's fall."