When I was little I loved the story about the Woodland fairies. I remember having the book read to me and falling asleep to the pictures. My dreams were filled with fireflies, wooded paths, and fairies with painted wings. When my daughter was little, I passed on the tradition by reading the same book. Imagine the surprise I had after stumbling upon a place that celebrates the flight of a child’s imagination. Highfield Hall in Falmouth is pure magic that unleashes the inner child and is for all ages.
I arrived there early in the morning after leaving the Vineyard as I was heading home from vacation. I wasn’t looking forward to the long drive as I was still in vacation mode. This was a welcomed stop. I didn’t realize what a lasting impression it would make.
My first stop was in the back of the mansion where I started to unravel the magic of the exhibit and its fairy houses. I was welcomed by the faint smell of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. I later discovered that it was actually cocoa mulch and had a quick laugh. Nonetheless, it was reminicient of being a child. Some of the houses were visible to the eye immediately while others rested in gardens or in the trunks of trees. They were created with stone, glass, fibers, paint, and wood. Some had succulent and outdoor plantings which adorned them. As you explored further, they were found in groupings deeper in the woods. The inspiration for the houses came from each artists favorite childhood book. Children could then go inside after the exhibit to read a book of their choice.
I then stumbled upon a wishing well on the side of the hill. The artist used what appeared to be colored glass stones to produce the effect of water and dimension. This piece was also interactive in that the bucket of the well contained wishes. I admit that I peeked at them and found the one that I liked the most which read,” For summer to never end. ” Isn’t that a child’s sweet wish?
Art inspires, soothes the soul, and allows others to interact and engage. Children and adults alike had smiles on their faces that morning. At one point I remember a woman pointing towards the woods with excitement as she spoke to me, “Look, there are houses in the woods too!”
That morning I walked down a wooded path only to discover a fairy gate entitled, “A wind in the door,” by Angela Tanner. The gate symbolizes the spirits that can be found in the woods and are inspired by her favorite childhood books. When the gate is closed, you are able to hear the gentle passing of a spirit as it produces a subtle sound made by the objects that are crafted by the artist. These objects adorn the front of the gate. There is information next to the gate which describes each piece of art as well as each story book that inspired her.
As a child, my grandmother always had a vase of Queen Anne’s Lace on the table by a window. They would catch the wind and the sun ever so slowly and gracefully. ” Queen-Anne’s-Lace”, an installation piece created by Ashley Blalock is reminiscent of those same flowers. They can be found on the side of the property moving ever so slowly in the wind while attached to the grand trees. It was there I stood peacefully watching it in its elegant form become part of nature. I then remembered a story told to me as a child. It was the tale of how Queen Anne had made the lace that took the shape of the flower. While she was making the lace she pricked her finger. The purple dot in the middle of the flower is symbolic of her blood. All of the memories came flooding back as a child by standing in front of this free flowing work of art.
I had a difficult time leaving that day as Highfield Hall appeals to so many senses and releases a part of you that was forgotten. A childlike space where all of the memories of my daughter along with my own childhood were found. I will be back. I would like to thank the brilliant artists as well as Highfield Hall for making each visitor’s experience unique and personal.