Michael Eden

Michael Eden (1980 – present) studied Fine Art Painting at Wimbledon School of Art and an MA in Fine Art at Wimbledon College of Art (following incorporation into UAL). As the author of this page I will address the reader in the first person. I am an artist and researcher, my art practice is mainly focused on oil painting and I have also made constructions and sculpture. Examples of my practice can be seen on social media (Eden 2022). I have exhibited work and published texts related to art and culture. I am undertaking a PhD in Fine Art at Middlesex University which explores links between subjectivity, monstrosity and landscape and I work as a lecturer at the University of Arts London.  

My interest in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is key to my PhD thesis where I assert the Green Knight is a composite and layered monster, defined (and coherently presented) by a particular relation to time and the landscape. This study has led me to explore the medieval poem, the various critical texts that address its themes and of course has in part led me to the creation of this site. However, my interest in the poem predates that study and any recent scholarly attitude acquired and rather represents a long engagement and obsession with the ambiguous story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

 

I first encountered the poem in two forms relatively close together. I read the Tolkien (1979) translation as a ten year old hoping naively for a simple sword and sorcery adventure that would pander to my thirst for particular imagery and satisfying clichés. I was met with a text that is highly complex and nuanced beyond my immature expectations, where the knight does not triumphantly destroy a monster and unite with a beautiful woman but where doubt and self-knowledge are central, and where hard solid answers are not forthcoming. That expectation for an affirming narrative experience left me initially disappointed and confused but the imagery and my questions as to the meaning remained. I have come to think of this quality as an artwork living inside the psyche rather than being shut down by certainty. A year later (at 11 having moved from the North East to the South East) I saw a Thames television TV play, Gawain and the Green Knight (1991) which interlaced welsh verse with a romantic aesthetic presentation, the imagery there building on the strangeness of my initial engagement with the written text and bringing once again to the fore the alien seeming courtly games and intrigue that define the story. At this point I returned to the text, reading again a version from my new schools library, and that poem, its monster and thwarted knight became (to my mind) the most significant creative engagement of my formative years. The impact was haunting, I was niggled by the quest and the outcome to the extent that it became a central pillar of my mature works during a process of reassessment of my creative practice before undertaking PhD study. The medieval poem stood out as a subject matter I had never acted on and the only one worth pursuing at doctoral level.  

 

References

Armitage, S. (2007) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Faber and Faber.

 

Eden, M. (2022) Michael Eden Artist. [online] Available at: https://www.instagram.com/michaeleden7675 [Accessed 28 May 2022].

 

Gawain and the Green Knight (1991) [TV film] Directed by J.M. Phillips. United Kingdom: Thames Television.

 

Tolkien, J. R.R. (1979) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl and Sir Orfeo. George Allen & Unwin.

Images shared courtesy of the artist

The Reproachful Head of the Green Knight (2020) top elevation, fired ceramic
Figure 3 Attendants dressing and armouring Gawain, 2m x2m, oil on canvas (2021) own work..
Temporal Landscape 1 (2020).jpg
Figure 2 The Slime of Life Clings to Sir Gawain, 2m x 2m, oil on canvas (2021)..jpg
Green Chapel (2021)_edited.jpg
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