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Foliate or ‘leafy’ heads such as this one are perhaps one of John Piper’s most distinctive motifs, appearing in his works in a variety of media including tapestries and ceramics as well as drawings, paintings and prints. Their form is based loosely on traditional ‘green men’, found in the architecture of many medieval and nineteenth-century buildings. The recurrence of the image perhaps reflects Piper’s fascination with detailed medieval church carvings , particularly misericords - small wooden shelves installed in churches to provide some comfort for those needing it during long periods of standing prayer.

May 2007