Inspired by Nature

Many of you are probably familiar with Cicely Mary Barker’s 1920’s collection of books; a unique series that combined the illustration of delicate creatures, holding flowers available throughout the different seasons of the year. Her ‘Flower Fairy’ books have since been republished many times, using modern techniques to lovingly reproduce Barker’s original artworks.

Barker lacked formal artistic training, however she was happiest with a sketch pad in her hand. Her passionate dedication led to her first publication at the tender age of 15, with a series of postcards. Cicely Mary Barker was largely educated at home due to ill health, and was a self taught artist with obvious natural ability. The Flower Fairies, first published in 1923, brought her international acclaim as an artist.

Each fairy was designed holding a bloom, illustrated with meticulous botanical accuracy, and dressed in a costume that quite often looked like the flower had been carefully dissected and placed, petal by petal in place of clothes. The series has continued to capture both children and adults alike, and has certainly earned its place amongst classic literature.

Her summer edition includes many of this season’s treats, such as the glorious summer garden rose, scabiosa, forget-me-nots and more. I love her winged creatures, with their dainty features, the delicate belled sleeves, and full, blossomed skirts.

While it is not quite the same, many designers recently have used flower petals to create fashion pieces, and I can’t help but wonder if Barker may have provided some inspiration. Grace Ciao, a Singaporean artist, along with Lim Zhi Wei have deconstructed flowers and placed the petals back piece by piece to create frilly skirts and full, flouncy dresses. We’ve included a selection of examples by each, and will let you make up your own mind. What is evident however is that nature provides us with boundless inspiration, if only we take the time to see it.

Fwf x

IMG_0038

* THE SONG OF *

THE FORGET-ME-NOT FAIRY

So small, so blue, in grassy places

My flowers raise

Their tiny faces.

By streams my bigger sisters grow,

And smile in gardens,

In a row.

I’ve never seen a garden plot;

But though I’m small,

Forget me not!

IMG_0039

* THE SONG OF *

THE SCABIOUS FAIRY

Like frilly cushions full of pins

for tiny dames and fairykins;

Or else like dancers decked with gems,

My flowers sway on slender stems.

They curtesy in the meadow grass,

And nod to butterflies who pass.

IMG_0040

* THE SONG OF *

THE ROSE FAIRY

Best and dearest flower that grows,

Perfect both to see and smell;

Words can never, never tell

Half the beauty of a Rose –

Buds that open to disclose

Fold on fold of purest white,

Lovely pink, or red that glows

Deep, sweet-scented. What delight

To be Fairy of the Rose!

IMG_0041

* THE SONG OF *

THE FUCHSIA FAIRY

Fuchsia is a dancer

Dancing on her toes,

Clad in red and purple,

By a cottage wall;

Sometimes in a greenhouse,

In a frilly white and rose,

Drssed in her best for the fairies’ evening ball!

Grace Ciao design
IMG_0043
Grace Ciao design
Arum lilies used to create elegant skirts
Lim Zhi Wei design
IMG_0045
Lim Zhi Wei design
IMG_0042
Lim Zhi Wei design

Leave a Reply