Next week sees the release, to an adoring population of Potter fans, of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Warner Bros).
If the gifted JK Rowling proved one thing, it was that children and adults like their fairy tales in print (hurrah) and delivered in a very dense, dark narrative.
Apart from binding us forever to the bespectacled Harry — demons and fabulous animal forms coaxed from the imagination — proved to be Rowling’s star turn.
For thousands of years we have invited the image of wild and mythical animals to dwell with us, evidenced by Palaeolithic cave paintings including the glorious herding creatures of Chauvet in France.
I discover recently that a friend of mine had boldly recreated a whole section (to scale) of Chauvet’s silhouetted creatures galloping free across the walls of her tiny coastguard cottage in Roche’s Point, Cork.
She’s the second non-artist I’ve met to spontaneously take to the walls one afternoon with this very subject.
Animals in interior design
The Georgians and Victorian upper classes expressed this enthusiasm for natural history by gleefully annihilating every furry or feathered thing in the empire they could shoot, stab or pickle.
By the 1860s, pause in a polite drawing and you were in peril of being pinned behind glass or mounted to the wall.
Porcelain German dinner plates writhed with tiny painted insects, and hand-coloured, illustrative books proved one’s cultivated interests in dung beetles and garden butterflies.
Today, we have our own accepted, thematic oddities. Bathrooms are the beachside (seagulls welcome) and kitchens are farmyards (enter the grinning pig biscuit barrel). This contrived weirdness secretly drives many of us completely mad.
Today’s potential animal magic is gleaned by designers from free-flowing inspiration indoor and out — antique printed silks from Versailles, mid-century pop art, National Geographic, the zoo.
Contemporary artists and recent technologies and materials, deliver a fascinating, new avant garde menagerie that won’t bite.
For the offbeat creative creature in you, it has to be Glasgow duo Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons of Timerous Beasties.
Choose from lush, well-behaved dioramas of creepers bowing with native and exotic birds (Indie Wood in linen and wallpapers), and Rorschach-style blotches and splats where psychedelic creepie-crawlies lurk in the folds (Kaleido Splat).
Prices from polite to punk hand-prints from €168 per metre of fabric, wallpapers from €94, www.timorousbeasties.com
Wall decals offer the chance to super-size, enjoy and change your mind. Go bold on white with deep colours in a single creature.
Suppliers include Sisters Guild (UK), and online from German company, www.tapetenagentur.de which does a fabulous butterfly, €144.70 and a deep jewel of a scarab beetle, €86.80, (just tap in Google translate).
Working with the images of Piero Fornasetti, Cole & Sons delivered a character-rich, fish wallpaper, Acquario.
Don’t take my word for it, dive in —its frieze of Fornasetti’s engraved life-size owls nestled side by side on a branch, Nottambule, is also a classic Italian hoot.
Full rolls from €101, www.ie.amara.com and all Cole & Sons stockists.
Flight by night
Let me tell you something I have learnt about wolves on bed linen. Their fur fades and requires an iron. Crumpled photographs — not chic.
Something less digitally perfect, like the Painted Polar Bear set by M&S (after Nord of Copenhagen) is a lot more forgiving with the same big scale impact on a safer white ground. From €40.
Forivor organic bed linen has a new Enchanted Forest line which, sad to say, is limited to the single bed (very shortsighted for us big dreamers).
Co-founder Alice Ross, illustrator and project co-ordinator at the British Museum and The National Portrait Gallery in the UK, provided the complex design of fantastical creatures above and below earth.
With a pale ‘Day land’ side and darker Forivor choice, thick with fantastical creatures, pretty cards are provided to prompt night-time tales. A gorgeous Christmas present, €156, www.forivor.com
If the shadows scare them silly, stick up a calming, plump and pert-eared Spoka nightlight from IKEA. €15.50.
Perfect for a master bedroom, the La Volière floor lamps and chandelier pendants by Mathieu Challières features a miniature aviary hand made at a Parisian Atelier. Prices from €418.40 from www.houzz.com
Look into the art of assemblage to make your own from a stripped drum lampshade and cheap faux birds from any good florist.
There are some truly strange exhibits in the domestic decorative zoo, and shifting colour changes the familiar thing to the irresistible animal.
I’ll stick my neck out and say that Roche Bobois’ No Limit vase by Vanessa Mitrani is a startling, instant collectable.
A hand- blown clear vase with porcelain red carp bursting through the sides, it’s nothing short of fierce (yes, please Santa), €300-€600, www.roche-bobois.com (Sandyford, Dublin).
Where human subjects in art would be intrusive, every sort of creature with a lovely line has a playful feel.
Abigail Ahern’s velvet lamps supports in ravens, baboons and companion animals channel taxidermy examples, and season after season have shown that bold eccentrics can sell well, from €135, Debenham’s.
For a more biker-gothic turn, check out new age stores, but go easy on the displayed resin unicorns.
Irish artist Claudine O’Sullivan limited edition print, Beatrice the Bear is a winner and rather more snugly, from April & the Bear.
Her creator claims Beatrix is ‘studying feminist theory and has a keen interest in fashion illustration and is rather obsessed with Grace Coddington’ — just the sort of anthropomorphising nuttiness we like here at the Irish Examiner — €60.