Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The Peaseblossom Collection: Inspiration

"The cowslips tall her pensioners be:
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dewdrops here
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear."
(from A Midsummer Night's Dream)

Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book was one of my absolute favourites as a child, and I happened upon it whilst sorting out my mother's huge pile of *stuff*. For those unfamiliar (which, quite frankly, you should be ashamed of) This is a reproduction of the diary of Lady Angelica Cottingham, which features pressed garden fairies. Or rather the psychic images of the fairies, who quickly turned it into a game, where they leapt between the closing pages in an effort to outdo each other to produce the most outrageous poses.

The book claims to be the facsimile edition of the notebook of Lady Cottington who, it is said, took the infamous photograph of a group of fairies that was authenticated by Conan Doyle, but later discredited.

She was determined to prove the existence of fairies and began to capture them between the pages of her notebook, in which she had previously pressed wild flowers. This is a record of the fairies she caught, and of the disruptive influence they had on her otherwise sheltered life.

There are pages where Angelica was only able to snap the edge of a fairies foot. Some of the fairies are very beautiful with lithe bodies, others are more frog-like in appearance and others are creepy and ugly. Some of the fairies where snapped at just the right moment and preserved in excellent shape.

Other fairies didn't fare quite as well during the pressing stage and look a great deal like the bugs on your windscreen, only prettier and much more colorful.

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