16 January, 2010

Flower Fairies

While shopping for the holidays, before the turn of the new year, I came across a calendar in a bookstore that jumped out at me. Now, if you know me, I rarely make impulse purchases. But it took only a single glance at this calendar for me to know, I had to have it.

So, what kind of calendar could it be, that I would just have to have? A rock 'n' roll calendar, featuring all the gods of rock? A guitar calendar, with lots of groovy guitars? An erotic calendar, with naked chicks? An anime calendar? A horror calendar?

Nope. As you've probably already guessed, by the title of this post and the images below (if you've glanced ahead), it was a Flower Fairies calendar. Yep, flower fairies - as in, fairies imbued with the likenesses of flowers.

One of the advantages of shopping close to the holidays is that the excuse, "it's a gift for somebody I know," is a lot more plausible. Sure, there are birthdays year-round, but during the holidays, it's pretty much assumed that you're shopping for somebody else, and not yourself.

Well, it's not like I keep my love of [mythological] fairies a secret. And I don't know why there's all this shame about liking girly things to begin with. I recently came across a photo on flickr which was accompanied by lyrics to a song - lyrics that were strikingly articulate. And to my surprise, it turned out to be a Madonna song. Now, I'm not really a fan of Madonna's music (although I can't help being impressed by her approach to controversy during her Sex period - "express yourself, don't repress yourself"), but these lyrics are pretty good:

Girls can wear jeans
And cut their hair short
Wear shirts and boots
'Cause it's OK to be a boy
But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading
'Cause you think that being a girl is degrading

Case in point: using the phrase "you (verb) like a girl" as an insult.

Well, I don't think there's anything wrong with girls or girliness - in fact, I admire them very much. But I'll spare you the diatribe on gender politics. The point here is that I think the fairy art in this calendar is adorable. To the point that I actually looked up the artist - one Cicely Mary Barker, born just before the turn of the century (the 20th century).

She capitalized on the fairy craze that grew out of Victorian England, borrowing models for her art from the kindergarten her sister ran out of the house they lived in. I found her approach intriguing, in that she would always find a specimen of the flower she was to depict - which she took careful effort to depict accurately - have the young model hold on to it, and then simply draw the flower as large as the child. I also like how the fairies are dressed according to their flower, wearing petal skirts and whatnot.

These are just a few of my favorite fairies:

The Narcissus Fairy is the messenger fairy, who transmits information (of various levels of importance) throughout the fairy court, and symbolizes egotism - though I relate more to the vanity aspect.

I've always been fond of willows, both because they are aesthetically beautiful, and because they symbolize sadness and mourning. The Willow Fairy, like her namesake, is dipping her toes into the stream.

The Traveller's Joy Fairy - it would most certainly be a joy to encounter this fairy during one's journey.

An angel on a snowflake, the Snowdrop Fairy offers consolation and hope amidst the depths of winter. She also instills purity of thought, and is inhabited by moon spirits.

The Almond Blossom Fairy is bursting with all the joy of Spring, urging the rest of the fairies to join hands and laugh and dance with glee.

The Gorse Fairies play 'kiss chase', indulging in a little playful fairy romance. The gorse bush, with its year-round bloom, is known as a symbol of endurance, inspiring the adage, "when gorse is out of blossom, then kissing is out of fashion."

[The above fairy profiles compiled from flowerfairies.com]

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