Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies shaped the common image of the ‘fair folk‘ in the twentieth century post the publication of “Flower Fairies of Spring” in 1923. Cicely Mary Barker’s artwork shouldn’t be compared with the shoddy slapdash technique on the tiles below, even 100 years on her illustrations bear close examination to appreciate their quality both for the accuracy of the botanic specimens and the depiction of the imaginary little beings attending them.
This range of plastic tiles were discovered in a bric-a-brac store by our curator who just couldn’t resist acquiring them for the museum. The rudely made objects somehow encapsulated his disgust for the notion of fairies as sweet little creatures that tend for the flowers and trees. In traditional tales, as you can discover throughout this site, fairies are much more complex creatures. Sometimes malign, they are much more likely to bring a curse than a blessing. They live in a parallel world where their time is in a different almost ageless dimension, and if we should meet them we mess with them at our peril.
Whatever your feelings are about these tiles, they were certainly a starting point for a discussion.