Monday, December 20, 2010

Imagining Flower Fairies


When Cicely Mary Barker (1895-1973) moved into a Victorian house in south London, she had a studio built out back in the garden. Meanwhile her sister ran a kindergarten in one of the rooms of the house.


The kindergarten provided a steady supply of child models for Barker’s Flower Fairy characters. The children wore costumes that were stored in a trunk in the studio. Barker made the fairy wings from twigs and gauze, taking the elements apart after each picture to be recycled into future costumes.


All of her fairies were based on specific kinds of flowers. The plants were painted from observation in her own garden and from the botanical collection at Kew Gardens. 
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Complete Book of the Flower Fairies, at Amazon, published by Warne.
Photo of CMB and more complete bio at “Through The Looking Glass Children’s Book Reviews”  

14 comments:

Larry MacDougall said...

Beautiful - Merry Christmas.

Mirelmture said...

I loved and collected these books as a child. I had no idea about her background. It makes me want to know more! I love how she combines fantasy with life studies much like Beatrix Potter did.

Rockhopper said...

These inspired me for some R&D on fairies, I was asked to provide a cgi fairy that worked in hi def for a tv programme here is my CGI test piece

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yr8RrwuYeVA

Looking at these wonderful images was the best part of my job.

Rachel said...

There is no modern fairy artist whose work I like, enjoy, and appreciate the realism of, as much as Cicely Mary Barker. (Unless there is one I don't know about!)

Rebecca said...

I have her work hanging around my house. love it! Thanks so much for sharing!

David Glenn said...

Using kindergartners as fairies. Not much different from how you ask friends and family to pose as Dinotopian characters.

Don Cox said...

I think the great strength of Barker's fairies is that they are all portraits of individuals, and not just generalised fairies. The flowers and wing colours seem chosen to suit the personality of each child.

And her use of the pen-and-ink with watercolour technique is masterly.
There must have been some good teachers of drawing at Croydon School of Art.

lauragarabedian said...

I am fairly amused that I just purchased that book. I have adored her classic illustrations since I was a child and was thrilled to find her collection of work at half price books. :)

Tabatha said...

What fun to have been one of those kindergartners! Maybe not the actual posing part, but dressing up and then later seeing yourself turned into a fairy -- excellent! (Maybe that would be a good angle for a picture book about Ms. Barker. Hmm...)

Dave said...

This is such a sensitive piece of work and it was so difficult for women at that time to do anything creative.. I get this understanding from reading the works of Virginia Woolf as in "A Room of her own"

Tanya Boracay said...

Wow beautiful painting

Just like to share with you a famous quote...

"The voice of parents is the voice of gods, for to their children they are heaven's lieutenants. " -- Shakespeare

You can get more famous quotes at http://quotelandia.com

Philip A. Buck said...

more about the flower fairies on the this cool blog: http://www.vintagechildrensbooksmykidloves.com/2012/06/flower-fairies-of-summer.html

Anonymous said...

Lovely pictures,and the poems are beautiful too.The flower fairies are so treasurable.

A L Goodman said...

Stumbled on this page doing research for our Nursery. Dinotopia and Barker's Flower Fairies are such visual reminders of my childhood, and we would love to use illustrations from both on our baby Girl's walls. Had to order second copies of books so we can frame pages without cutting up my old ones. Thank you for such enchanted, evocative images.