CICELY MARY BARKER - FLOWER FAERIES
Cicely Mary Barker was born on 28 June, 1895 in
Croyden, Surrey, England (South London).
Her family had a long
history of creativity. Her father, Walter Barker, was
descended from a line of wood carvers, and he continued in
this trade. In 1909, he is known to have donated a hand-carved
pulpit to his family's church.
Cicely was gifted as a child,
and spent hours drawing and painting.
A frail child, often ill, she suffered from epilepsy which
disappeared later in life.
She was educated at home and showed an exceptional talent for
drawing and painting from an early age. Her loving father
encouraged her work, and enrolled her at age thirteen in Craydon Art Society in a
correspondence course which she followed at least into her
early twenties. She later became a teacher at the school. Though this was the only formal art training
she had, it was the beginning of what would be
a life-times work for this most talented, fae-blessed artist.
Cicely's first work
was published at the age of
fifteen, after she sold a number of paintings to Raphael Tuck --- a set of six postcards.
The postcards were called the Elves and Fairies
collection. She received international acclaim. The following year she
won a poster competition sponsored by the Craydon Art Society.
Soon afterwards she was granted a lifetime membership in the
Society, becoming their youngest member.
Queen Mary did much to encourage the vogue for fairy
paintings during the 1920's by frequently sending postcards
depicting fairies to her friends.
Cicely's illustrations of flowers and plants are
not only botanically accurate, but most of all, the fairies in each
picture remind us of the magic and beauty
of nature. You might say she was the Audubon of fairies!
Not only was she a talented artist, she also wrote a poem for each fairy. Her first
book was published by Blackie in 1923 and was
followed by seven other Flower Fairy books over the years.
Her pictures of fairies and sprites are beautiful and
known throughout the world and her fairy drawings and
pictures were based on plants and flowers and her study of
children. Cicely's younger sister, Dorothy, ran a
kindergarten in a back room of their home and Cicely used
the children in the school (and their relatives) as her
models, carefully matching the character and appearance of
each child with the character and appearance of the flower.
Likewise, every fairy costume echoes the characteristics
of the flower featured in a meticulous way, and the fairies
themselves range from the cheeky little Heather boy racing
over the moors to the graceful Willow fairy, dreamily gazing
into quiet waters.
One of her favorite models was a young girl named
Gladys Tidy who came to the family house every Saturday to
do household work.
FLOWER FAIRY ART
FLOWER FAIRY ART (TINY)
Cecily Mary Barker - age 18
Books & Illustrations
Flower Fairies of the Spring (1923)
Flower Fairies of the Summer
Flower Fairies of the Autumn
Flower Fairies of the Winter
Flower Fairies of the Seasons
Flower Fairies of the Trees
Flower Fairies of the Garden
Flower Fairies of the Wayside
Cicely always asked the child to hold the
flower, twig, or blossom of a particular plant, for she wanted
to be sure of the accuracy of her depiction of the shape,
texture, and form of the plant. Her only alteration was
to the size, she enlarged the flower to make it the same size
as the child.
If she could not find a flower close at hand,
she enlisted the help of the staff at Kew Gardens, who would
often visit her with specimens for her to paint.
Cicely was a devout Christian her entire life.
Her faith was represented in much of her work, whether in
cards, books, or decorating the churches with which she was
affiliated. In 1916, she designed eight mission postcards,
including Prayer, a picture of a young woman kneeling
before an open window (possibly modeled by her sister). In
1923, she painted a series of five Birthday cards featuring
angels and babies for the Society for Promoting Christian
Knowledge. Starting in 1923, Cecily painted many religious
works, including illustrated Bible stories, written with her
sister Dorothy. She also painted panels and triptych for
chapels and churches including The Feeding of the Five
Thousand for the chapel at Penarth and The Parable of
the Great Supper for the chapel of Saint George's Waddon.
Her sister Dorothy
died in 1954, and Cicely designed a stained glass window for
St. Edmund's Church in her memory.
Cicely Mary Barker died in 1973 but her
remarkable talent lives on, her gentle Flower Fairies are as
graceful and beautiful as ever.
The world is very old;
But every Spring
It groweth young again,
And Fairies sing.
Cecily Mary Barker, Flower Fairies of the Spring