Here at eFairies.com we feature fantastical works by many amazing artists. But there is one artist’s vision that has set the bar for depictions of fairies among nature. Her name is Cicely Mary Barker.
Cicely was born in Croydon, Surrey, England in 1895. Although she suffered from epilepsy, Barker’s childhood was happy and productive. Cicely’s father nurtured his daughter’s artistic talents, enrolling the thirteen-year-old in the Croydon School of Art and paying for art correspondence courses.
Cicely’s early influences were Kate Greenway, Randolph Caldecott, and the Pre-Raphaelites. She worked with watercolors, pen-and-ink, oils, and pastels. Cicely was only 16 when she sold her first published pieces, a set of postcards. Her career path in the arts was established, and she never looked back.
Her greatest popularity came from her Flower Fairy book series – each special illustration depicting a unique plant bloom and an accompanying fairy wearing an outfit inspired by the plant’s flower. These drawings especially resonate with people who feel each flower has a fairy caretaker who exhibits characteristics of their plant.
The line of Flower Fairies was inspired by subjects Cicely had close at hand. Since she believed in painting from real life, she chose flowers and plants that were accessible. Those flower specimens that she didn’t have, the Kew Gardens of England would supply. The “fairy children” she drew were modeled from children who attended her sister’s nursery school in their home.
In l923, Cicely’s first of the Flower Fairies books, Flower Fairies of the Spring, was published. It quickly found a following in England, where people were charmed by her beautiful blend of realism and fantasy. It was also a time where the population was looking for visions of innocence to counter the horrors of WWI they had recently lived through.
Cicely went on to publish Flower Fairies of the Summer, Flower Fairies of the Autumn, and many other titles featuring her foray into fairies and flowers. After her death in 1977, Flower Fairies of Winter was published posthumously. A division of Penguin Books acquired the rights to the Flower Fairies properties in 1989.
Cicely’s beloved illustrations live on in many forms, such as highly collectible, three dimensional figurines. eFairies also carries Cicely Mary Barker stationary, party supplies, books, flower fairy figurines, porcelain tiles, and canvases.
New Flower Fairy products are released every year along with a new series of Flower Fairy ornaments, guaranteeing that Cicely will continue to inspire budding fantasy artists for generations to come.