Coast & Vale Community Action’s Social Enterprise scheme is intended for any business or business idea that aims to be profitable but also supports the area’s well-being (contact ed@cavca.org.uk).

The Ivy Cavern is an example of a social enterprise that has benefited from the scheme.

As an independent trader, they have used it to support the community, promoting the circular economy and green agenda in addition to other activities.

Kate at The Ivy Cavern has turned a small unit in the Market Vaults into a space like no other – a packed woodland showcase, partly inspired by the 1920s realm of the Cicely Mary Barker flower fairies.

“When I first started painting faerie art in 2004, the term faerie wasn’t that widely known; it’s the old spelling of ‘fairy,’ originating in France.” she said.

“I chose the old spelling on purpose as the ones I wanted to paint were not your typical fairies such as the Disney-type, as lovely as those are. I always felt something was missing from these depictions; the sweetness and light is definitely not the full story of the faerie.”

A grotto with a mini-waterfall has become the home for faeries, crystals and Celtic art at Scarborough’s Market Vaults.

The Ivy Cavern and gift shop is run by artist and designer Kate Monkman – now in Covid-lockdown but carrying on online.

During the lockdown, Kate is putting the finishing touches to her own stunning children’s book which promotes mycelium – a natural fungus that can replace plastic-foam packaging and could be part of a green agenda that promotes the power of nature to help deal with current ecological problems.

Creating a distinctive style of faeries, goddesses, gnomes and woodland characters, Kate designs her own jewellery, paintings, cards and gifts, all on pastel-coloured Celtic-based and natural themes.

Not as well known or visited as her talents deserve, she currently has more customers online in America than locally, with her work popular in New York, Salem, California and Los Angeles, as well as Australia and Germany.

She believes that nature and the culture of the ancient Celtic people have a relevance to today.

“Whatever your beliefs, there does seem to be more to this woodland and natural realm than meets the eye. I believe everything is alive and has an essence or spirit and this is what tries to connect with us if we allow it.”

“This belief is felt strongly in the Celtic tradition… the old stories and the images seep into your bones, and has become a big influence on my work helping me create pieces such as Deer Medicine, Cerridwen’s Spell and Path Weaver which are all directly inspired by the mythology of the area.”

“Most of my ideas come to me when I’m out walking in nature and a lot of what I paint just comes from my intuition, feelings and dreams.”

Kate was born in Scarborough, attended Pindar School and Westwood art college before taking a degree at Liverpool in fashion and textiles.

She later lived in Wales, where the Celtic tradition engaged her, and then in Chester where he she began the idea of selling cards she had painted. Moving back to Scarborough in November 2019, she opened the Ivy Cavern.

Her first book, entitled Maple and the Crystal Cavern is a magical adventure about mushrooms, nature, recycling and the ‘wood wide web’. She has been creating it at various times over the past three or four years.

The fantasy tale contains a topical message about the plastics problem, the green agenda & circular economy and the idea that nature itself has an answer to landfill issues.

“Before I wrote the story I was already aware that fungal mycelium, which features in the book, can be recycled and broke down waste in a natural environment, but was unsure about the process in a landfill site. Could fungi even decompose plastic?”

“Researching further I learned that fungi could provide a solution to our plastic problem after all.”

“I’m really excited about a future without plastics, made possible by mycelium. I’m by no way an expert, and have only really begun to discover all its possibilities.”

Kate has sold thousands of her faerie-related creations via the international online via Esty store which promotes folk-based products.

“There is a lot of interest in buyers from places such as Salem in Massachusetts and in Germany, where folklore is still strong.” she said.

“Half of my orders go to America per month and they particularly like Mother’s Day calendars, Christmas gifts and I get Halloween orders such as bat brooches.”

Kate, who is in her early 40s, said:

“I just like the idea of a fantasy world… it’s escapism, meditative and peaceful. Nature, the natural world, roots and old English folklore and stories can take you out of the stress of the world and have relevance today, I feel.”

Kate is currently offering tote bags embossed with some of her faerie images, first come first served to the first 10 customers who buy items. She also hand makes Swarovski Crystal suncatchers, using 20mm crystal moon pendants or 22mm crystal drop pendants in iridescent aurore boreale shade.

“My suncatchers feature a range of magical creatures and nature inspired themes such as dragonflies, moths, butterflies, bats, oak, maple and ivy leaves & fairy wings, each one comes in a hand-stamped gift box made of recycled card with ribbon tied scroll with the symbolic meaning of each creation.”

Some of her huge array of work can be seen at freerangefaeries@yahoo.co.uk and www.mapleandthecrystalcavern.uk

Kate has a faerie post box outside her unit, where children and some adults place messages or wishes.

“Some are entertaining, some sad, and some are people’s thoughts about the current virus.” she said.

She replies where addresses are given and gives children a free faerie key.

“I also do painting. It’s good for focus and a useful distraction. The space I use at the Vaults is small but I like it that way and can keep on top of it.”

Coast & Vale Community Services and Benefits

  • We offer you free, independent support
  • Free marketing and promotion with web resources and social media
  • Free support from specialist staff who have experience of supporting such enterprises
  • Bespoke support through discussions
  • General support from Coast & Vale Community Action and contacts
  • Business-to-business events and networking
  • Information on finance sources