The Interlopers

The Interlopers

Insects, plant roots, eggshell, mouse skin, snail shells, polymer clay

The Parkland - Glasshouses

Meadow Arts Commission 2011


Slugs, snails, caterpillars and other pests have found their way into the glasshouses at Attingham. Both captivating and unnerving, Tessa Farmer's exquisitely crafted scenes unfold in glass domes dotted amongst the plants.

Insect sized skeleton-fairies have been gathering slimy creatures in a pile but their motive is not entirely clear; are they intent on letting the pests run amock amongst the delicious young plants grown by Attingham's attentive gardeners or is this slimy mound their prey - to be used as slaves or eaten later.

A feast occurs nearby; fairies recline on cushions made from bee abdomens and feast on ladybirds and woodlice served in empty snail shells. A dragonfly descends towards the scene, ridden by hungry fairies eager to join the feast. Other fairies can be seen flying away with a stolen egg, hoisted in a net made from spindly black St Marks flies.

Not content with the bounty from the glasshouse and the hens, the fairies have looked further afield, and raided the nearby 18th century bee house; they have captured a swarm of bees and stolen a precious chunk of honeycomb. What will they do next ?

Tessa Farmer

Tessa Farmer's sculptural forms and film work are at once darkly humorous and macabre. These are no Disney fairies with pastel coloured costumes: these fairies may bite or sting you if you come too close. Painstakingly made, these intricate creatures are the tormentors of the mini-beast world. Her works use our imaginations against us, invoking the nightmarish qualities of original folklore tales in the tortuous scenarios enacted by the gleefully wicked, but industrious sprites. 

Tessa Farmer has exhibited in solo exhibitions in Europe and in New York, as well as across Britain, most recently in London, where she has had solo exhibitions at The Crypt (with music by Amon Tobin) and at the Danielle Arnaud Gallery in 2011. Her work has appeared in group exhibitions at many prestigious galleries worldwide, including the Saatchi Gallery in London and The State Hermitage Museum, in St Petersberg, Russia. Tessa was born in Birmingham and is now based in London.