The Cottingley Fairies are a set of photographs taken by two teenage girls in the early 1900’s depicting fairies in a natural setting near Cottingley, Bradford. During an historic era of image making, when photography moved from the formality of the professional studio and the preserve of a few enthusiasts to become more widely accessible to families to take their own photos and document their lives as they wished to, using a mass produced camera. The iconic photographs were created by Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright who claimed they were real. The sensation that surrounds them was created through the press promotion of the story including the involvement of Conan Doyle and Kodak in researching and presenting the case for and against a hoax.
The romanticism and nostalgia associated with the story that has kept it alive to this day and made it the subject of this public art commission.
Lead Artist Kate Maddison worked with Bradford Council’s landscape architect, artist Van Nong and the local Community Association to develop three public art features set within the new landscape gardens of Cottingley Oval.
Community Art workshops were held involving a local youth group to create their own contemporary fairy illusions.
A garden to attract butterflies and moths was part of the landscape work to encourage environmental awareness and biodiversity.
Project Date: 2010-2011
Commissioned by Cottingley Community Association and Bradford Metropolitan District Council
Lead Artist Kate Maddison, Chrysalis Arts
Photos by Kate Maddison and Van Nong