McAra, Catriona (2012) Of Paper Cut-Outs and Other Worlds. Inklings Jahrbuch für Literatur und Ästhetik, 29. pp. 98-120. ISSN 0176-3733

The Cottingley fairy photographs have challenged and mystified critics and commentators for close to a century now. This article proposes to re-read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s documentation of the Cottingley affair in his book 'The Coming of the Fairies' (1922) through refocusing the emphasis onto the role of the not-so-innocent paper cut-out. An art historical interpretation of the affair enables a consideration of both the contemporaneous avant-garde techniques and the visual culture of the period, which in turn raise discussion about the nature of hoaxes, questions of representation, and strategies of fakery. Finally, this article considers the Cottingley photographs as a model or precept for the creation of more recent art and design including that of Su Blackwell and Tessa Farmer.

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