Do you believe in magic? Most adults will answer no and claim to have outgrown magic at the same time they stopped believing in Santa and the Tooth Fairy. For adults, it survives only in children’s stories and Las Vegas variety shows. But ask the same question of a child and you’ll be told in great detail about witches and wizards, cursed frogs, Kings with talking swords, goblins who spin straw into gold, trolls who live under a bridge and young girls being chased through forests by axe wielding hunstsmen. Magic is part of the very fibre of a child’s being so what is it that changes when we grow up?

When I was a wee girl I KNEW I could move objects using the power of my mind, I just hadn’t worked out how; I KNEW that clocks had their hands moved around by tiny little people who did their work when we blinked, I didn’t need to see them to be convinced; I KNEW that if I was a good enough person I would one day find a unicorn who would join me as I walked in the forest.

Then I was educated out of my beliefs. I was taught to look for empirical data to back up theories, to use logic and reasoning and to instead of instinct and wishes and to accept responsibility instead of whimsy.

And it’s shite.

So when John Hyatt exhibited his recent photographs, I was very, very excited. If you haven’t heard of him, he is the man behind the Rossendale Fairies, a series of photos taken around Lancashire. Hyatt, an art research lecturer from Manchester, claims his photographs were not doctored, not photoshopped and the fairies captured by his camera just happened to be there.

What do you see in these photographs? Gnats? Midges? The photographer doesn’t commit himself.

“People can decide for themselves what they are. The message to people is to approach them with an open mind,” he is reported to have said. “I think it’s one of those situations where you need to believe to see. A lot of people who have seen them say they have brought a little bit of magic into their lives and there’s not enough of that around.”

Hyatt is quite right: there isn’t enough magic in people’s lives. Our TVs and newspapers are filled with horror and inhumanity and if these photographs bring hope, a chance that things might be better then they are magical in themselves. What brings a lost child home, a remission from an untreatable cancer, old friends meeting in a cafe after years apart, if not magic? Co-incidence? You may choose to believe so.

But me, I’m still looking for my unicorn.

*All photographs are the copyright of John Hyatt


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