Rayner Hoff – the Manx born sculptor who found fame in Australia – Public Lecture by Deborah Beck

On Wednesday 19 September 2018, Manx National Heritage will host a public lecture at the Manx Museum by Deborah Beck, author of, Rayner Hoff – The Life of a Sculptor.

Born on the Isle of Man, Rayner Hoff was the son of a stone and wood carver. He began helping his father on architectural commissions at a very young age and attended the Nottingham School of Art where he studied drawing, design, and modelling, from 1910 to 1915.

He served in the British Army during World War 1 in France, an experience from which he was to draw most passionately in the creation of his various war memorials. Later in the war he made maps based on aerial photographs. 

Following the War he enrolled in the Royal College of Art in London. He graduated in 1922 and received the prestigious Prix de Rome.

After studying in Italy for three months, at the age of 29, Hoff emigrated to Sydney, Australia. His arrival in Sydney resulted in a cultural renaissance in his adopted country. He became an influential artist and teacher, and established the first school of sculpture in Australia.  He later became Head of Art at the National Art School.  

He became a member of the Society of Artists and sent work to their exhibitions. In 1924, he designed their medal, and in 1927, was responsible for sculpture for the National War Memorial in Adelaide.  His best known works are the monumental sculptures on the Anzac War Memorial in Sydney’s Hyde Park.

His work on the Anzac Memorial is cited as Sydney’s most moving example of publicly visible sculpture. 

Hoff also produced a variety of outstanding figurative sculptures and in 1934 was commissioned to design the Victorian centenary medal. At the time of his death, on 19 November 1937, he was engaged on the George V Memorial for Canberra.

Alan Kinvig, Museums and Site Manager for Manx National Heritage said:

“Manx National Heritage is delighted to welcome Deborah Beck to the Isle of Man.  This promises to be a fascinating lecture, exploring Rayner Hoff’s eventful life in the UK, his decision to emigrate to Australia and his meteoric rise as a prominent star of the art world in Sydney”.

There will also be an opportunity to have your book signed by Deborah on the evening. A limited stock of books will be available from the Manx Museum shop.

The lecture coincides with the recent launch of a set of six stamps by Isle of Man Post Office celebrating Rayner Hoff’s work.

Tickets for the lecture cost £10 and are available for sale at the Manx Museum Shop, where presentation stamp packs and Deborah Beck’s book ‘Rayner Hoff – The Life of a Sculptor’ are also available.  Tickets also available online at www.manxnationalheritage.im/shop.

The lecture takes place on Wednesday 19 September.  Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start. 

Isle of Man Art News – 10 September 2018

It’s a veritable art fest at the moment. There’s so much on and so much quality art to see it makes my wee heart sing. I called into the new exhibition at The Hodgson Loom on my way home from work on Friday night (perfect timing for me) to find a packed gallery, both with people and treasures. I say treasures because this is what this show really captures for me. Not only are Ray’s photographs as beautiful as ever, and Niamh’s exquisite little sculptures just as captivating, but there are items that have been rescued from the Tholtan in the making that was the home of Harvey and Laura Briggs in Onchan like these beautiful little teddy bears and Laura’s button box.


The following is an extract which Niamh has included in the lovingly assembled scrap book documenting some of the story of Harvey and Laura Briggs’ life, this relating Niamh’s feelings for these very ‘Real’ teddys.

From the Velveteen Rabbit (1922) by Margery Williams

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it does not happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

How beautifully put. Mind you, I’m feeling pretty ‘Real’ myself these days – I’m definitely getting loose in the joints, I’m pretty shabby most of the time and I’m just waiting for bits to start dropping off…. any day now I reckon 🙂

I spent most of Saturday in Castletown at the Engine House but timed it with purpose so that I could go to the opening of Petrina Kent’s new show, ‘Deeper’, at the Sayle Gallery. Petrina was telling me that she’s been bringing realism into her work and using larger brush strokes – very successfully I might add. This is a gorgeous show; check out the little walk around video I did.



The Sovereign Art Foundation Students Prize launched in the Isle of Man for the first time in 2017. Artworks of high calibre have been sumitted for this year’s competition and having seen them I can say they really are testament to the quality of young talent on the island.

All secondary schools and colleges in the Isle of Man are invited to nominate the best artworks produced by their students. All artworks are assessed by a judging panel who then shortlist 12 finalists. The process is now at the stage where the finalists’ works are on display at The Sayle Gallery and the public is invited to vote for their favourite piece. The top 3 artworks with the most public votes will be awarded the top 3 prizes. Additionally, an artwork with the highest combined judges’ score will be awarded a Judge’s prize.

The Sovereign Art Foundation Students Prize aims to celebrate the importance of art in the education system and recognise the quality of art that can be produced by students in the Isle of Man. At the same time it also aims to raise funds in aid of a local children’s charity, as well as The Sovereign Art Foundation and its many meaningful projects. 

This is just a sample (with no particular personal preference). To vote either go into The Sayle and see them for yourself (highly recommended) or you can view and vote online here.


Dates for your Diary


On now until 7 October at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester – ‘Monumental Rage’ – Michael Sandle, RA

On now until 16 September – Ellie Baker’s ‘Light Confection’ at The Isle Gallery

On now at The Sayle Gallery – ‘Deeper’ by Petrina Kent

On now at The Sayle Gallery – The Sovereign Art Prize (go and vote for your favourite)

On now at The Hodgson Loom Gallery – ‘T’oltans Reclaimed’ by Ray and Niamh Kelly

September – Year of Our Island: Our Festivals

On now – Natalie Norton – ‘Under the Cloak’ at the Erin Arts Centre

11 September – Mike Kewley Mindfulness Drop in Session at The Engine House, Castletown 7pm-9pm

15 September – Oh My Pen & Press – Intro to Brush Lettering Calligraphy Workshops (2 options available)

22 September – Oh my Pen & Press – Modern Calligraphy for Beginners (2 options available)


Here’s this week’s round up of images from Social Media. Click on the pictures to view in the lightbox.


Have a great week!

Jane x

Keep up-to-date by ‘Liking’ the Facebook Page or by ‘Following’ me on Linkedin or Twitter@manxart or Instagram @manxartdirectory or Pinterest. To get in touch please email: graceandhall@gmail.com

New Shows for September



Petrina Kent’s new exhibition Deeper marks a new phase in her practice, treading familiar ground, but through fresh eyes.

Petrina has a great fondness for exploring the landscape, from which she draws inspiration for her work, works that offer her translation and expression of her connection to the essence and spirit of a place. Through her use of vivid colour, natural form, and considered composition, another dimension to these landscapes can be seen and felt, drawing the onlooker to engage on a spiritual level.

Viewers are invited to into the landscapes that Petrina paints, to create their own narrative, and join her in the search for that ‘something else’ that can only be found when immersed in the natural landscape.

Deeper is presented with support from The Isle of Man Arts Council. The exhibition will be open to the public at the Sayle Gallery from 8th September – 7th October 2018.


You are most welcome to go along to the Private Viewing and Book Launch of ‘T’oltans Reclaimed – A reflection of times past’ by Ray and Niamh Kelly.

This is going to be a fascinating collection of Tholtan themed bringing you closer than ever, to the life of the iconic tholtans and landscape of the Manx hillsides.

Friday 7th September, from 6:00pm, at the Hodgson Loom Gallery, Laxey Woollen Mills. Nibbles and refreshments will be available.


And last but by no means least, Adam Berry has a new show, Jigsaw2, opening at The Isle Gallery on 23rd September.

Have a great week!

Jane x

Keep up-to-date by ‘Liking’ the Facebook Page or by ‘Following’ me on Linkedin or Twitter@manxart or Instagram @manxartdirectory or Pinterest. To get in touch please email: graceandhall@gmail.com