Mythical they maybe but that hasn’t dimmed our fascination with fairies, mermaids, angels and witches. Maybe it’s their other-worldliness. Or their supposed magic powers.

But with internationally recognised artworks that feature all manner of make-believe creatures, Bournemouth’s Russell-Cotes Museum has been well-placed to notice our enduring interest in the subject. Now they’ve turned that attraction into a new exhibition.

‘From Dadd to Discworld’, combines the influence of the artist Richard Dadd, whose Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke is considered perhaps the most iconic fairy-painting of them all, to the illustrations produced by New Forest artist Paul Kidby for Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books.

Collections officer Helen Ivaldi explains: “Our manager met Paul Kidby at an event and they got chatting about his work. She felt Paul’s art would complement some of our own collection, such as The Butterfly by Luis Ricardo Falero and the idea was born.”

The exhibition interweaves Paul’s work, including many of his Discworld illustrations, with more formal artwork from the gallery’s collection, plus some loaned exhibits from the Portsmouth City Museum.

“Mythical creatures do intrigue us,” Helen says. “We have paintings of mermaids under the section ‘Femmes Fatales’ – mermaids were often thought to sing to draw fishermen onto rocks.”

The sorceress shares wall-space with Granny Weatherwax, one of Paul’s Discworld creations. Some are painted but Helen’s favourites are the pencil drawings.

“When you look at the detail you realise how immense it is,” she says. But this would appear to be a time-honoured way of working. Helen shows me a rarely-seen piece of Russell-Cotes artwork which has just arrived back from the conservator.

“It was a sketch for an oil-painting that was never completed but, although it’s not much bigger than A4, it is so delicate, with so much work in the vines and the feathers in the angel’s wings,” says Helen.

They also have a painting that subsequently featured as an illustration in an Edwardian children’s book and again, the attention to detail is breathtaking.

The exhibition hopes to prompt visitors to look again at familiar works, while showing influences and connections they may not have known existed.

The Russell-Cotes was unable to borrow the original Dadd painting, which lives at Tate Britain, but the Saatchi Gallery loaned the copy created by Turner Prize nominee Spartacus Chetwynd, which was used in her performance that celebrated radical British visionaries such as Mary Wollstonecraft, who also had strong links to Bournemouth.

They also have some original publications, lent by the Portsmouth museum, featuring the notorious Cottingley Fairies, images faked by two Yorkshire girls but which, for a time, convinced many in Edwardian society.

Add to this the mesmeric altar-piece painted by Edward Arthur Fellowes Prynne and Paul Kidby’s stunning painting, Luciana, produced specially for the show and Helen believes visitors must ‘prepare to be enchanted’.

l Angels, Faeries and Femmes Fatales: From Dadd to Discworld is at the Russell-Cotes until March 9