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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

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

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Catching Fire – Janet Lees

Catching fire

You said

  from behind your book of shapes

If a fire got in

that would be it        whoosh

   and I nodded abstractedly

not thinking it through

  the patient touch paper

            the incendiary itch

              the virgin tongue that licks

            along the heartlines on each palm        

                twists in

                               through an undefended edge

                and then

            the blood orange bristle of indoor fire

  my fingers burning holes in everything


   soft furnishings


  the bone dry roses of that bouquet

             that bunch of old pursed mouths

                gone            whoosh

            in a tangerine flash

     the tendons in their carping throats

  turned sparks that fountain up

to singe the cooling skin of last night’s moon

   rain down to feed a fire that eats

            the parquet floor for breakfast

               blows open doors with a BOOMBOOMBOOM

             makes every window sing a cracked tune

            houses without chimneys

    should not huff and puff

fetches us out of our little cold stoves

      to fill us with a roman candle rush

             that boils my blood like jubilee jam

                        and I am

            in love with the act of making fire

   my cape of smoke

this newborn burn

       the tinder

  and flint

of each







20 November 2015

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Space Junk – Janet Lees

Space junk

‘And do you think people are talking

about you on the TV?’ I croak ‘No’,

throat stripped by the grey snake they sent

down to suck the deathwish out of me.

He could be a newsreader, this ironic doctor

shielded by a desk; frost moustache aligned

with postbox mouth. Red when shut,

black when open. Reflecting my spectrum.

A gnarled part of me wants to ram

something too big in that black hole

and watch it fill with red. But more of me

is carried on Valium contrails, ghosted out

against a veil of dead stars that still shine.

‘And do you think the washing machine

is a spaceship?’ I wish I did think that.

I think I could be one myself –

a metal vessel spun across the universe,

burning up on this re-entry.