Flower Fairies centenary exhibition opens soon at Liverpool’s Lady Lever Gallery

Liverpool’s Lady Lever Gallery is to host a brand-new exhibition, opening 15th April 2023, about the Flower Fairies created by author and illustrator Cicely Mary Barker, in association with Penguin Ventures.

The Narcissus Fairy and the White Bindweed Fairy © The Estate of Cicely Mary Barker, 1944, 1948, 2017
The Narcissus Fairy and the White Bindweed Fairy © The Estate of Cicely Mary Barker, 1944, 1948, 2017

Since their first publication in 1923, Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies have enchanted both adults and children alike around the world. The botanically accurate drawings in the 170 original illustrations, coupled with the enchanting fairy images based on real children from Cicely’s sister’s nursery school, appeal to our innate sense of magic and wonder.

Originally accompanied by a poem or verse dedicated to the individual Flower Fairy the charming characters and detailed artwork have also been translated into fiction for young readers as well as the New York Times bestselling Fairyopolis series.

Today, the Flower Fairies brand is managed and licensed by Penguin Ventures on behalf of brand owner Frederick Warne & Co., now part of Penguin Random House Children’s.

The Crocus Fairies. From Flower Fairies of the Spring © The Estate of Cicely Mary Barker 1944
The Crocus Fairies. From Flower Fairies of the Spring © The Estate of Cicely Mary Barker 1944

To mark the 100 year anniversary of her first book, Flower Fairies of the Spring, this exhibition will feature around 45 original illustrations, with digital projections and costumes inspired by the fairies, designed by Vin Burnham

Explore the inspirations behind Barker’s paintings, as well as the flora and fauna featured in the work through National Museum Liverpool’s botanical collections.

First published in 1923, there were originally 170 drawings – accurate depictions of flowering plants and trees, into which are incorporated, caricature figures of fairies, designed to accompany the species drawn. The Fairies were often based on real children, from Barker’s sister’s nursery.

Flower Fairies of the Spring

“It has been a pleasure working with the Lady Lever Art Gallery on the Flower Fairies exhibition, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first printing of Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies of the Spring,” said Sara Glenn, commercial curator at Penguin Ventures.

“Highlights on loan from the Warne Archive will include a selection of original Flower Fairy artworks and three beautiful costumes specially created in quarter scale by Vin Burnham.

“We’re so excited to help bring this exhibition to the Lady Lever Art Gallery and hope that visitors of all ages will enjoy stepping into the magical world that Cicely created 100 years ago.”

In addition, Penguin Ventures recently acquired a private collection of Cicely Mary Barker’s original objects and ephemera on behalf of Frederick Warne & Co., which offers further insights into the artist herself. Comprising photographs, letters, sketchbooks, notebooks and artworks of people she knew and places she visited, this new acquisition brings a wealth of historical reference and context to the existing Frederick Warne & Co. archive.

• Flower Fairies: Enchanting illustrations by Cicely Mary Barker 15th April 20235th November 2023 Port Sunlight Village, Wirral CH62 5EQ | Website

Flower Fairies – Official Web Site: flowerfairies.com | Facebook

Flower Fairies books by Cicely Mary Barker on AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

The Flower Fairies books by Cicely Mary Barker (1895 – 1973) are owned by the Warne Archive. Flower Fairies is a registered trademark

The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Explorer (previously known as Star Trek Magazine) and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of "Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies" for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.

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