Fairies in art is about more than creating something magical or beautiful, though these are high goals to be certain. The art of fairies and fairy tales should be about connecting to something ancient, about gaining a better understanding of our roots.
This is because fairy tales themselves are ancient, as is humanities belief in fairies. These are perhaps are the most interesting cultural artifacts we have because they were artifacts created by and intended for peasants. They are the tales of peoples dreams and hopes, as well as of their fears. So although the morals of fairy tales aren’t always relevant for today the stories themselves are more than that, they are about understanding humanity about connecting with where we came from or with another culture entirely.
When looking at art for fairy tales one must bare this in mind, that these illustrations are connected to some of the most important cultural artifacts and as such they can serve one of the greatest purposes art can serve.
Unfortunately many of the greatest classic books we have are not confined to the children’s section as are fairy tales. It seems strange that the works of some of the Greatest British and American authors as well as folktales about the darkness of history should be regulated to the children’s section. Though its not surprising, the same thing happened to fairies which at one time also represented human hopes and fears. It is rare of course to think of fairies as being present in fairy tales as most people only read the Grimm brothers tales and forget about Hungarian, Celtic or other fairy tales.
When Reading the tales collected by the Grimm Brothers one needs to keep in collected many of their tales from people who had lived in urban environments for so long that they had in many cases forgotten their roots in folk culture. So the fairies in many of these stories are a little harder to see, still they are there, Rumpelstiltskin when read in German is clearly related to a fairy being, one which usually helps princesses find happiness in these tales.
Even when they have been altered by modern literature fairies can still make for meaningful stories. Peter Pan himself is in essence a fairy as many fairies were humans who lived in fairyland and could never grow up. As with the fairies of old Peter represents a longing, a desire for something else, but he also represents a fear a fear of loosing everything by remaining childish.
It is the duel nature of fairies to represent both good and bad, both hopes and fears. This is why they and fairy tales make such wonderful cultural artifacts because their meaning is never clear as it always conflicts with itself, just as society and people do.