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Saturday, March 30, 2013

In the Realm of Faerie

A Faerie Rade

This was the first adult book dedicated to fairies that I owned.  It was published in 1978 so I would have been 19 or 20 at the time it was given to me.  It is not a book of cute and cuddly images for children.  I will possibly put together another post of the fairies themselves another day.  I'll pick the most innocuous of them as I like to think my posts are for everyone and some of the creatures contained in the book are quite malevolent and disturbing.

Instead what I wanted to concentrate on in this post is the type of landscape the book presents and to include a few of images from the first section called 'The Realm of Faerie'.  Much of the book is presented in the style of an Edwardian naturalist's journal.  There are pencil sketches and watercolours - done the in the way a botanist would record the world of nature by jotting down observations on site.  This impression is emphasised by the addition of notes and comments (mainly handwritten) that accompany the pictures.

I love the style of these illustrations. The detailed perfection of the pencil drawings, the wash of colour and the wonderful characterisation.  The book is very informative as well, providing a background of fairy history and tradition across the whole of the British Isles with a fair amount of reference to the part of the world I live in (The Republic of Ireland - I'm not in the UK.)  I like the way some of the illustrations combine artistic techniques - like the illustration below where the fairy realm glimpsed through the secret door is in brilliant colour, but the 'real world' is merely sketched in pencil.

I especially enjoy paintings done with a wash of watercolour producing a delicate misty effect.  My spirit has always thrilled to images like these and ever since I first saw them as a child and young adult I dreamt of escaping to this magical, mystical world.

Why have I chosen to put together this post now?  Well - my new surroundings made me think of this book again and the fairy realms portrayed within it.  For the past few weeks I have been grieving for the mountains I lost my heart to, but I have also been conscious that I now reside in a landscape just as magical in its own way.  What makes it all the more remarkable is that when I first read this book I lived a long way away, in another hemisphere, at the other end of the word.  I longed to experience these landscapes but had no expectation I would ever see them, let alone live in surroundings like this.  My little family has been in Ireland for 12 years now and I still find it incredible that I reside in countryside that produced the inspiration for so many stories and images like these.

The stream at the bottom of the garden

It is a bit dull and gloomy at the moment.  Winter will not release its grip and the garden still needs to spring to life and colour.  The tree in front of the patio in the picture below is a magnolia.  I can't wait for it to burst into colour - I know the flowers don't last all that long but are a beautiful sight when they are in bloom.

I'm surrounded by fairy forests in this pretty little vale.  The trees behind us make me think of the Sulamith Wulfing prints I posted last year, another long time favourite of mine.

Some more photos of the garden.  I love all the trees and of course the bird life is fabulous and there are even pheasants down here in the valley just as there were in the mountains.

In this misty landscape its easy to imagine castles like this one rising up in the distance.  Sometimes if I scrunch my eyes up (and I am going slowly blind anyway!) I can almost imagine I am able to see one.

This is another lovely illustration from the book of the Lady of the Lake.  According to the notes accompanying this illustration the surface of the lake was an illusion created by magic to disguise her palace.

The Lady of the Lake

King Arthur in his court at Gwyn-ap-Nudd.  This double page illustration is backed by a thorn tree.  Glastonbury Tor and its association with Avalon has an interesting connection with thorn trees.  The Holy Tree said to have grown from the staff of Joseph of Aramathea at Glastonbury was a thorn.  Thorn trees are sacred to the realm of faerie - thorn trees on a hillside are always a strong indication that fairies live there.

These pages on the Tuatha de Danann in Ireland also reminded me that their homes in the hollow hills are called 'raths'.  My new commute by train (into Dublin where I work) now starts at Rathdrum.  In Irish it is called Ráth Droma (the Rath part is pronounced phonetically like 'Raah') and means 'Ringfort of the Ridge'.  The scenery I get to enjoy every day is spectacular and it is still a new enough experience that I look forward to savouring it as I travel to and from work. 

All illustrations taken from:

Described and illustrated by Brian Froud and Alan Lee
Edited and designed by David Larkin
Copyright 1978 by Rufus Publication Inc, printed by Pan Books (London and Sydney)

I can't put together a post this weekend without another update on the swans in St Stephen's Green.  All indications are that there are going to be babies again this year!!

Last week I saw the two adult swans swimming around the base of the island in the lake looking very cosy.  I thought that might mean they were getting ready to nest and I was correct!  This week the female has started sitting on her eggs.

The nest is in the one place that people can't get to in the park.  They really are very clever birds.  It is sheltered by a weeping willow tree and so she sits there like an enchanted princess in a story.

I had to zoom in to get these photos so they are not brilliant but you can see how lovely she looks tucked away there.

Only two of the last brood are left in the park now.  I believe they head off by themselves to find a territory of their own.  I don't know if that is true or if the park officials give them a helping hand - but I do know that the park is not big enough to support more than two adult birds and one brood so it is part of the natural scheme of things that last years offspring have to go.

My new commute means that I can't go to the park in the early morning, only at lunchtime.  The last morning I was there one if the swans dropped this feather for me.  I keep it next to my bed - its a special reminder of the peaceful time I used to spend with them!  

I found an especially informative and interesting site about swans hosted by The Swan Sanctuary in the UK.  This page is of FAQ.  In my case I wanted to know how long the eggs took to hatch - besides finding the answer to this I discovered a wealth of other facts that are absolutely fascinating.

No chicks or bunnies on my blog for Easter - but the promise of some baby cygnets in a month or so!


Barbara said...

Your posts are always so well put together Sharon, and this one is no exception. All the illustrations are stunning, but my favourite is the open door and the fairy realm beyond. Did Brian Froud provide all the illustrations or was it Alan Lee or did they both have a hand in it?
Thank you for sharing the swan photos, I can’t wait to see the cygnets.
Your new home is beautiful. It looks as though all kinds of trees and shrubs will flower in the next few months. I bet you can’t wait to see everything changing with the seasons.

darlene foster said...

It was great to see pictures of your new home. It seems that magic follows you. I love magnolia trees too and had never seen one until we moved to the west coast of Canada. (It is too cold for them in the rest of Canada)It will be great to see more pictures as spring arrives and everything blooms. Happy to hear the swans are in the family way again. Of course I loved the faerie pictures.

Victoria Stitch said...

thanks so much for bringing this book to light. it look fascinating. I may just have to buy it! Happy Easter Sharon!

CraveCute said...

Hi Sharon, I've been away for a few days but delighted to see your Fairy post. Everything about this post is just enchanting. I know you are aching for your mountain home but I hope as time goes on the magic of your new place is revealed. Blessings always and hope you had a nice Easter. ~Diane

earthenmagic said...

...way awesomely informative post!...
...ooooooooooooooOoh! ~ thee is such a blessed soul! ~ i can only begin to imagine how magical thine dwelling place is! ~ there be many faeries in thine new cottage and gardens! ~ all of them are ready for many great adventures with thee! ~ biggest hugs! ~ dear kindred heart!...(o:

GardenofDaisies said...

Your new home looks so lovely, surrounded by trees and mist in the valley. The fairy book looks wonderfully enchanting. My youngest niece would LOVE it. She is the one who used to build fairy houses in the trees around her home when she was young. :-)
I love how your park swans have built their nest under the protection of the weeping willow tree. A whole new brood of cygnets to look forward to.

Barbara said...

Hello Sharon, I was just browsing on Pinterest clicked on a paper doll set and was taken to a paper doll collectors blog I thought you might like it
Barbara said...

must say I enjoy your post.It's full of enchanting wonder creating and filling ones imagination.When I leave this earthly plain, maybe? the fairy Queen will take my soul
away. It's a thought. be well, agman

Nora said...

Your new home is absolutely enchanting and like you I could imagine a castle rising in the distance above the trees. However, I can also understand how you would miss your other home as it's location was lovely too. You are so lucky to live where your do. I've always wanted to live in an area such as yours but never could afford it. :) I was also enchanted by the pictures you shared and the story of the swan family. I so enjoy reading about them and always enjoy your posts. Thank you again gor sharing. :) Hope you had a wonderful Easter.

Donna Heber said...

Hi Sharon,

You are surrounded by such beauty. How special to have swans so close to you. I am anxious too for the gardens to bloom and to finally see some color. I hope you had a nice Easter and a wonderful spring.

Donna Yates said...

The illustrations and colorings are amazing. I love 'the Lady of the Lake' one. Very nice.
Love the pics too. There is something about swans, isn't there?

Barbara said...

Hi Sharon, thanks so much for calling into my blog, I always enjoy hearing from you. I visit you often and still find posts I've not read before. I only have to type 'Sharon' into Google now, and it directs me straight to your blog! I hope all is well in your world. Barbara.


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