The Celtic & Faerie Art of Kate Monkman

When I first started painting faerie art back in 2004 the term faerie wasn’t that widely known and I had a few people inform me that I’d spelt ‘Fairy’ wrong,  thankfully the world of faerie has become a lot more popular over the years and most people recognise that it’s not actually a spelling mistake (though I am very bad at spelling!) The word ‘Faerie’ is the old spelling of fairy originating in France. I chose the old spelling on purpose as I knew the fairies I wanted to paint were not your typical fairies such as the Disney type, as lovely as these are I always felt something was missing from these depictions; the sweetness and light is defiantly not the full story of the faerie!

I loved the Cicely Mary Barker flower fairies as a young girl and still do but even back then I knew in my heart that there was more to the faerie realm than flower fairies, something deeper.I couldn’t put my finger on it for years but I felt it down at the bottom of my garden when I stood by an old tree stump covered in bracket fungus and I caught a whiff of it if ever I was alone in the woods, the feeling of being watched and something else, something magical and otherworldly but just out of sight.

It wasn’t until I was 18 and someone showed me a Brian Froud book and I thought ah ha that’s it, that’s the real faerie realm! His artwork always feels as if he has gained personal access to the world of faerie and somehow brought back the photos!After thinking I had grown up and left the world of fairies behind suddenly all the old magic and wonder was re-kindled and I began the journey of becoming a faerie artist myself.

Whatever your beliefs there does seem to be more to this realm than meets the eye and my mind will always stay open to possibilities. My own personal belief is that the faerie realm is nature itself, I believe everything is alive and has an essence or spirit and this is what tries to connect with us if we allow it. This belief is felt strongly in the Celtic tradition and moving to Wales in 2011 I found myself drawn to the Celtic world. It’s sometimes as if the landscape itself whispers the old stories and the images seep into your bones,  I began reading the Celtic myths and stories associated with the area around where I lived near Bala Lake in Gwynedd and it became a big influence on my work helping me create pieces such as Deer Medicine, Cerridwen's Spell and Path Weaver which are all directly inspired by the mythology of the area.

I do use the term Celtic loosely as it encompasses such a wide cultural demographic, the exact geographic origin of the ancient Celts is disputed and the term Celtic often refers to a collection of different nomadic tribes who shared, passed on and influenced each other in all areas of life from art to language and music, I use it here as it encompasses a lot of my beliefs and influences.

Most of my ideas come to me when I’m out walking in nature and a lot of what I paint just comes from my intuition, feelings and dreams.

In November 2019 I began a new adventure moving back to my hometown of Scarborough on the East Coast of England and opened a real shop ~ The Ivy Cavern in the Market Vaults in the historic old town, I'm also busy working on my first childrens book ~ Maple and the Crystal Cavern, a magical adventure story about mushrooms, nature and the Wood Wide Web ~ you can find out more at

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