The Truth About Faeries

An exhibition everyone should visit, and here’s why…

The Truth About Faeries from A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Lord of the Rings

10th July 2010 to 12th September 2010 – Tullie House Art Gallery, Carlisle


“From the Golden Age of illustration from the 1860s to 1920s up to the present day, this exhibition explores the prevailing interest amongst story tellers, artists, film makers and illustrators in the world of fairies.”

When I first heard about this exhibition my intent had been to visit on day one, real life of course has a way of putting small hurdles in our path which means plans sometimes go out of the window 😉 Anyway, today we managed to visit this exhibition, and I’m glad we did. My main reason for visiting had been to see some of Alan Lee’s originals; I’ve been looking at his work in printed form for years but this was my first chance to see an original or two.

We’ve seen quite a few exhibitions at Tullie house now, some of them I had to leave fairly quickly before I fell victim to pretentious-crap-syndrome, that horrible condition where you start to think the artist really did have something in mind when the gathered together a load of old junk and called it art. The Truth About Faeries exhibition makes up for all the bad experiences we’ve had there.

What did surprise me was how some of the paintings affected me, I was looking forward as I’ve said the the Alan Lee originals, what I wasn’t expecting was how Brian Froud’s works would hit me. Staring at Brian’s Green Man and Bluebell Fairy made me realize how far I have to go with a paintbrush, I must admit that looking at Sword by Alan Lee gave me a slight sinking feeling that I’ll never be able to paint moving water in a way that I’ll be happy with now 😉

As much as looking at the delicate works of Brian and Alan made me want to sit down with some watercolours and paint for the rest of the week, looking at The Source of the Anduin by Paul Raymond Gregory made me want to run out and buy some huge canvas and vanish whilst I found part of Middle Earth hidden there. When you enter the gallery to view this exhibition you are greeted by a combination of faeries and green men, turn to your right and look down the length of the room and you are faced with this huge canvas by Paul, it took a fair amount of self control to visit the paintings in turn and not walk straight to this oil painting.

So, why is this a must see exhibition, well really look at the list of exhibitors to start with and then if that does not stir you to action think back to your childhood, did you ever read a Ladybird book, The Elves and the Shoemaker perhaps, well tucked away near the doorway are a small collection of original illustrations from a number of Ladybird books. They are quite simply a delightful glimpse at the art that affected so many of our childhoods.

This is an exhibition we’ll have to visit again, it’s so rare to see art like this in the far North of England that to miss it would be a shame, and once you’ve seen it once you’ll want to visit again 😉

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7 Thoughts to “The Truth About Faeries”

  1. This review made me think hard about a short termed trip to northern England…Thanks for putting it on, Graeme!

  2. Hi Graeme,

    So pleased you like Paul’s work. Did you get a chance to watch or purchase the DVD on the story of the whole magnificent series? Let me know where to send it and I will let you have one. For the readers – Tullie House have them for sale.

  3. Eve

    Hi, I too managed to visit the exhibit today before it disappears and was delighted to see a collection of it’s kind here in England. I ws wondering if you or anyone else here would know the name of one of the artists- stupidly I didn’t jot the name down. He had a couple of paintings in the modern artist section, one was a red riding hood themed scent with the wolf in a coat in woodland and the other painting I remember has 2 gnome figures whose hats’ silhouette make up the moon and the sun skyline? Any help would be gratefully received!

    1. Hi Eve, I’ve been through the catalogue but could not see the paintings though I do remember the wolf. I’ll have a search about and see if there’s anything online.

      1. Eve

        Thanks Graeme, it’s been bugging me for DAYS! I wonder why its not in the catalogue at all, they had at least three works in the exhibition…

      2. Eve

        I finally found it, after picking up my fairy research again. It was Sean Jefferson! The internet does his work no justice 🙂
        Gallery is here:

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