Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: fourteen paintings

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For every one of the fourteen screen prints in the Penfold Press Sir Gawain and the Green Knight series, I first made many sketches before producing at least one preparatory painting, and sometimes several. Here are fourteen of the paintings produced toward the printing process. Some are in private collections, and others will be in the forthcoming exhibition at the Martin Tinney Gallery.


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Above: Christmas at Camelot. Private Collection

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The Green Knight Arrives. 2016. Private Collection

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The Green Knight Bows to Gawain’s Blow. Private Collection

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The Green Knight’s Head Lives. Private Collection


The Armouring of Gawain. Private Collection


The Travails. 2016. Gouache and pencil on board. 55 x 55 cms

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Fair Castle: Study for Gawain Arrives at Fair Castle. 2018. Gouache, ink and pencil on board. 55 x 55 cms


Reynard and the Slaughtered Peacocks: Study for The Three Hunts. 2017. Gouache, ink and pencil on board. 55 x 55 cms

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The Happy Rabbits: Study for The Temptations. 2017. Gouache, ink and pencil on paper. 55 x 55 cms

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Vessel: Study for The Exchange. 2017. Gouache, ink and pencil on board. 55 x 55 cms

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The Source: Study for The Green Chapel. 2017. Gouache, ink and pencil on board. 55 x 55 cms

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Suit of Lights: Study for Gawain Staunches the Wound to His Neck. 2017. Gouache, ink and pencil on paper. 55 x 55 cms

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Out of the Fire: Study for Morgan le Fay. 2017. Gouache, ink and pencil on board. 55 x 55 cms

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Shadowed: Study for The Stain of Sin. 2017. Gouache, ink and pencil on paper. 55 x 55 cms


Clive Hicks-Jenkins and the Penfold Press: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – Part II

The Martin Tinney Gallery, Cardiff

10th January – 27th January 2018

Private View Wednesday, January 10th, 6 – 7.30pm


22 thoughts on “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: fourteen paintings

  1. I shouldn’t maybe have ‘favourites’ (I do) BUT suspect that they will alter with mood and moment.Dear chum, rest when you can and enjoy the comments winging in your direction.
    Love as ever and always
    B xxx

  2. Hope the fast-upcoming event is a thrill–to see them all hung together and admired will be a wonderful time on the way to an even bigger celebration. A lovely, protracted dance with one of the most fascinating poems ever written…

    Confetti, champagne, and a good night’s sleep to you!

  3. Congratulations on completing your quest Clive! My thanks go to you for giving us all this opportunity to see so much of your collected ‘Gawain’ work, from the last 2 years, in your last few posts.

    Many of the greatest artists since Dürer and Rembrandt have used the print medium to explore some of their most important ideas and, when you allow yourself time to reflect, I hope you will be able to see that so much of your history as an artist/storyteller is both contained and illuminated within this work. In the fine company of Dan, you have masterfully and lovingly assembled a precious mosaic of glittering fragments, collected from both ancient and modern times, which I am positive will one day be revealed to you as the glorious whole that this series of prints and paintings undoubtedly are.

    One of the reasons for my own enduring fascination with the ‘Sir Gawain & the Green Knight’ poem is in its intriguing ambiguity. Scholar Stacy Magedanz writes, “The poet presents a beautiful but flawed world, in which good and bad are always mixed together, impossible to separate completely. In this world, “bliss and blunder, wrack and wonder” coexist, each taking their places in the turning cycles of life and of history”. To bring this fascinating and complex world to life for a modern audience must have seemed a daunting challenge at times, which is why I find it truly inspirational to witness your endeavours resulting in the creation of the absolute visual equivalent of Simon Armitage’s translation of this magnificient poem. I know I am going to enjoy exploring all the riches contained in these multi-layered images for a long, long time to come.

    When you launched this project in June 2015, I wrote at the Artlog of my hopes of one day seeing your finished series exhibited alongside the original 14th century ‘Gawain’ manuscript, which is one of the jewels of the British Library’s collection.

    On the evidence of what you have shown us here, I have a feeling it won’t be very long before we see my wish – and much, much more – come true!

      • Thanks for your kind words Jeffery. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the book of poetry and paintings from your own ‘Dark Movements’ collaboration with Clive become a wonderful reality this year. Thanks to Clive and his collaborators, 2018 looks like it is destined to be a very good year for all of us who enjoy tales of mythic journeys filled with supernatural wonder!! 🙂

        • Oh Curious One, actually the due date for Spectral Pegasus/Dark Movements, the book, is now January 2019, so we’ll start off that year with Clive celebrations! Joy Mlozanowski and Meg Cowen of Kin Press in Connecticut clearly have a real sympathy for Clive’s work and for the poetry too, so I think the book will be a visual and, I hope, an aural treasure. Made no less so by your brilliant introduction to the book and contributions by Mary-Ann Constantine and Claire Pickard, and important epigraphs from Joseph Campbell and Lindsay Clarke . I’m getting four delicious blurbs from Wales and America from Jungian, Gnostic, and poetic forces (I’ll not release their names yet). Also working to get the Dark Movements exhibition here in North Carolina after the book is out and that seems very promising (as much as I can say now about that). Thanks for bringing this up. Here, then, the first public announcement of the forthcoming book! The Mari Lwyd will prance again.

          • Ahhh, Jeffery, the Grey Mare is dreaming of this new prancing. I’ve discovered that she never disappears completely, but just slumbers in some out of the way place, awaiting her time in the moonlight again!

    • Thank you, Sarah. It’s a fact that the final furlong was a hard chase, and right now I feel a tad blown by the effort. The work for the exhibition has been delivered to MTG ready for Martin to hang today, and when it’s all up on the walls of the gallery, I’ll begin to get a sense of what until now has been an arc of narrative only in my head. I’ve never seen all the prints together, let alone framed and on a wall. In the studio there were only ever a few present at any time.

      In March, MoMA Machynlleth hosts the full set of fourteen prints plus my paintings on the theme on loan from private collectors, preparatory sketchbooks, maquettes and examples of stencils for the series, in an exhibition to be opened by Simon Armitage. It should be an occasion that feels satisfactorily as though a circle has been neatly closed. The work on the print series began at the end of 2015 and completed at the end of 2017. Dan and I had no idea at the start that we’d end up completing fifteen prints in just two years. In retrospect it was probably better that way. It would otherwise have been too daunting a prospect. As it was we got to nearly half way before the plans for the two 2018 exhibitions coalesced, and at that point we were better prepared for what lay ahead. Right now, there’s just a sense of enormous relief to have got to this stage. Time will give me a perspective on what we’ve done that won’t be distorted by the exhaustion I feel right now.

      • Jeffery, I am delighted to read how well the ‘Dark Movements’ book project is coming together. I can’t help but feel that the Mari Lwyd is giving you and Clive his/her blessing with the midwinter release date for the book. I am sure I will not be alone in hoping that ‘the beast conjured from skull and sheet and ribbons’ will be the guest of honour at the launch!!

        Clive, I can’t think of a more perfect way for the ‘Gawain’ circle to close for you and Dan than to have Simon Armitage open your exhibition in March. I know how much this will mean to you. I read in an interview that it took Simon three years to complete his translation of the poem and on his first morning of work all he could think was (his words): “What the fuck have I done? I have no idea if I can do this.” I would guess that no-one is better placed to understand what you and Dan have achieved than the poet who breathed new life into this 600 year old poem, through his own labour of love.

        As you begin to reflect on your own fantastic journey, I will leave you with Mr Armitage’s closing words from the ‘Gawain’ poem, which never fail to conjure up the great storytelling tradition of our islands for me, of which you are irrevocably a part, “Since fearless Brutus first set foot on these shores, once the siege and assault at Troy had ceased, our coffers have been crammed with stories such as these.”

  4. I am utterly overwhelmed at all this superb work, Clive! I hope that when you have had some time to rest and ‘sit back’ you will be able to fully appreciate what a masterpiece of work you have achieved! I am wondering if I might ask Santa for a piece for Christmas 2018?! 😉 Much love to you and Peter xxxx

    • Shellie, thank you so much for your lovely comment. It’s a fact that I’m weary to a point of feeling like I’m recovering from a bad dose of flu, so it is quite hard to get the necessary distance on the work in order to better assess it. Right now I want to sleep for about a week.

  5. If only we had a long enough corridor in our house to hang them all in sequence!
    (and I could wear out the carpet pacing backward and forward soaking them all up)

    I’m saving up for one of the prints, but there are disagreements in our house about which one! 🙂

  6. I’m speechless! What an amazing body of work, they are exceptionally beautiful….and inspiring, I’m going to have to start getting up earlier in the morning! I wish I could see them in real-life. Good luck with the expo.xxxL

    • Thank you, Liz. It’s a huge relief to get to the end of this. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed it – I can’t think of a more wonderful project to have worked on – but the schedule has been relentless. You’ll recall from all those years you worked at WNO that sometimes when a deadline has you in its grip, you go onto autopilot. Everything you know suddenly comes into play – all the knowledge and expertise – and the thinking seems to stop. It’s like floating at speed as the current bears you and carries you forward, rather than thinking about how to swim. Instinct takes over. I’d thought about these images for so long that when the moment came to make them it was as though they developed, like photographs. To be perfectly honest I can’t even recall the process of drawing them. How weird is that?

    • I’m glad you think so, Lorrie. I can barely see straight at this point. There hasn’t been time to absorb and reflect, and to me it just seems like a whole heap of stuff that while I know I made it, can barely recall doing so. I think I could sleep for a week!

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