In Robert McFarlane’s book, Landmarks, the author plumbed the depths of Irish, Scottish, and British colloquial language to uncover a lexicon of ridiculously specific words common to specific areas. For example, “blinter” in Northern Scotland means “a cold dazzle of light”, often referring to light reflected from ice or stars on a clear winter night. One of my favorites is “kimmeridge- the light breeze which blows through your armpit hair when you are stretched out sunbathing.”
What struck me so much about those words is their intimate relationship with nature and their fun, often irreverent sounds and origins. Did you know a kestrel is called a “wind-fucker” in certain parts of Scotland?
I have no interest in fairies as they’ve evolved in popular Western imagination over the last 200 years. However, I’ve always felt they capture the brutal innocence of nature. Their dark, delicious folk mythology is also a rich tradition going far past translucent wings and pixie dust.
The goal of the Subverted Fairy project is to pair artists and writers together to create fairies based on the words from Mr. McFarlane’s lexicons. The artist illustrates (in any media) a fairy in response to a word. The illustration is informed by the word and its meaning. That word becomes the fairy’s name. The artist is also encouraged to pull from their own personal background as much as from the word. That’s the crucial part of the project. The intersection of the personal drawing, the uncommon word, and the fairy cliche. Once the drawing is done, a writer will write a poem in response to both the word and the drawing. Our plan is to publish a book when we’ve accumulated enough fairies!