Diana Sudyka is a Chicago based illustrator who studied a Masters of Fine Art at Northwestern University. Sudyka produced 8 full-page colour illustrations for a London Folio addition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight translated by Simon Armitage (2008). The intense focus of the Green Knight baring a holly bob as he enters Arthur’s court forms the jacket cover and is shown below.
The holly bob as a symbol has an often overlooked duality related to symbolism with obvious Christian references but also (understood at the time) it represented a gateway to ‘creatures from the other world’ (Randall, 1960:486-7). This allowed Sudyka to explore themes usually expressed in her personal work where she comments ‘I am seeking to create something that has both elements of the spiritual and pagan’ (Sudyka in Dvornikova, 2020). For many scholars the ambiguous and supernatural Green Knight has resonances of both pagan ancestors (see Jones, 1952:5) and Christ-like characteristics (see Besserman, 1986:234) making the poem an apt subject matter. Also shared here is a characterful boar, a beast with which lord Bertilak does battle during the second hunt risking his life to provide quarry for a banquet. In Sudyka’s image it gleefully bounds through the wilderness with a malevolent expression.
Armitage, S. (2008) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. London Folio Society.
Dvornikova A.V. (2020) Featured artists – interview with Diana Sudyka. Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice, 1(2). – URL: http://en.ecopoiesis.ru
Jones, G. (1952) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Golden Cockerel Press.
Images shared with the kind permission of the artist