|A "fairy dress" on display at Gallery 8 on Saltspring Island fits right into the fantasy theme that is part of the island's mystique. More photos of the dresses below.|
|And here's a fairy door at the base of an arbutus tree, near the Vesuvius ferry terminal on Saltspring. It opens, and children have added little treasures to its interior.|
When John and I climbed Saltspring Island's Mount Erskine a few years ago, there was a big reward near the end of the (for me) arduous hike. At the base of the bigger trees scattered over the rolling hillocks of green moss were "fairy doors" -- tiny carved, painted entrances evoking the idea that little folk just might be living behind them. The fact that someone would go to the effort of installing these little doors -- all imaginative and different -- to create a Hobbit world is testimony to the layer of fantasy that floats atop the down-to-earth realities of Saltspring Island.
One of the people who swims at Vesuvius Beach with us here every day has tapped into this fantasy. When Ida Marie first told me she made "fairy dresses," my mind leapt immediately to neon-coloured confections of puffy material, probably with a set of wings, that doting grandparents would buy for princess-minded grandkids. But no, Ida Marie said, she creates the dresses out of hand-done and sculpted silk, attaches them to bits and pieces of natural material from the woods, and displays them at an art gallery in town.
At Gallery 8, there they are -- tiny dresses on minuscule hangers attached to contorted little branches anchored in rock. The dresses are dream-like, misty layers and colours blending almost imperceptibly into other layers and colours. One dress is classically shaped -- a tiny person could wear it to a prom. Another cloud-like creation with a feathery hood could belong to a fairy ghost. A black one has more sinister overtones, reminiscent of the skin shed by a snake.
Coincidentally with Ida Marie's creations, I've recently learned that fairy doors aren't restricted to mountain tops. Somebody on the web advertises that he'll make them for your back yard, and there's one -- bright red and openable -- at the ferry terminal close to our place. For fairy ferry passengers perhaps?
Saltspring has as many problems as anywhere else -- water shortages, unaffordable housing, lack of jobs -- but its beauty and isolation lend themselves to a mystique that perfectly fits the fairy theme. Some say the island's geographic location gives it magical qualities; whether that's true or not, it certainly draws dreamers. Vestiges of the old hippie movement still exist here, and the weird and wonderful homes built on the island hint of people finally living out the dreams of a lifetime. So, fairy dresses and fairy doors? We all need a respite from reality sometimes.
|Here's a ghost fairy dress, all in pale blues and greys, with a feathery hood, courtesy of artist Ida Marie.|
|A grey and black dress has sinister overtones -- reminiscent of a shed snakeskin.|
|Another pretty prom-style dress, with its supporting sticks adding to the forest-fairy theme.|
|Here's the gallery description and price tag for all this lovely fantasy.|