It was another wonderful year on the Isle of Man in 2017 for all things arty, so for this, my first news post of 2018, I thought I would take a look back at some of the highlights.
The year for me started with The Hodgson Loom’s Open Art competition with the theme of ‘Time’. I was surprised, delighted and honored to be asked to be one of the judges and, not taking my duties lightly, boned up on how to go about it before spending the best part of a morning considering the huge variety of wonderful works submitted to the competition. There were quite a few different categories but the overall winner was Neil Milsom and the runner up, Niamh Kelly.
As ever, The Hodgson Loom hosted some wonderful shows during the year all fabulously curated by the multi-talented Julia Ashby-Smyth. I particularly enjoyed ‘Views, Vistas and Studies’ with work by Max Aitken, Ronnie Doyle and John Caley.
Another great show was the Loaghtan exhibition in conjunction with the 7th North Atlantic Sheep Conference. There were contributions from a huge variety of local artists including Nicola Dixon, Erica Kermode, Kasia Mirska, Chrissie Moss, Natalie Norton, Pat Kelly, Julia Ashby Smyth and Maureen Kennaugh to name but a few. I absolutely loved this amazing tea cosy by Helen Winter and Kasia Mirska’s ‘Ramon’ was a really fun piece.
One of the most difficult shows to curate, however, was Manx Cancer Help’s mini canvas project, which encouraged everyone – young and old; from professional to complete novice – to pick up drawing and painting materials and create a mini work of art on 10cm square canvases. These were then sold to the public in a dedicated show which raised over £5,000 for the charity. There were some absolutely wonderful pieces and it really did engage the public and raise awareness of the charity. Kudos to all involved.
Colleen Corlett, a lady who can turn her hand to pretty much anything creative, exhibited at the Hodgson Loom during the year and her latest show with Kathryn Cain was rather lovely with lots of buying opportunities. It never ceases to amaze my how reasonably priced original artwork is on the Island.
The Isle Gallery did some sterling work too during the year. Not only did the ArtReach Studios ladies put on some fabulous workshops through the year they also, in their spare time, arranged some pretty good exhibitions too! Julie Collins who is originally from the island and who regularly comes back to visit exhibited a show called ‘At the Edge of the World’. Her fabulous water colour paintings are definitely best viewed in person and testament to her skill, three of them were again selected by the Mall Gallery in London for their annual exhibition by the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours.
One of my favourite shows at The Isle Gallery this year was ‘Catch and Release’ with artists Julie Roberts and Nick Barlow. Their work complemented each other beautifully.
And yet another show which stands out at The Isle was ‘Taking Flight’ with work by Kate Jerry and Shelby Sandyford-Sykes.
The end of year show celebrated 25 years since the gallery opened originally as the Courtyard Gallery, with many well known artists exhibiting including Nancy Corkish, David Byrne, Sally Black, Petrina Kent and Juan Moore amongst others. They also ran their postcard lottery again – wonderful mini artworks by some of the island’s best artists. I’ve yet to collect mine and I can’t wait to see whose work I’ve drawn.
Studio 42, tucked away in Port St. Mary, is a place I don’t get to often enough. Owner Eben Carswell is a great supporter of local artists and he hosted a few lovely shows in his pint sized gallery during 2017. His gallery is a bit like a tardis. He seems to be able to fit so much work in and it’s such good quality too that it’s always worth popping in to see what’s new. I particularly liked David Maddrell’s ‘REM-embers Emblazoned’ and Ellie Baker’s ‘Still the Breeze’.
Eben is also picture framer of choice for quite a few local artists and he helped me out at short notice when I brought some of Roger Dean’s work over for the mini show at the Sayle, linked with the hugely successful ISLEXPO event in the summer. Eben gave ‘Pathways’ a bit of a spruce up and framed two new water colour paintings which looked amazing. Roger was delighted with them. Roger and his long-time friend, Dave Mousley, did an informal talk at the ISLEXPO event with a private viewing at The Sayle the evening before. (Photos courtesy of Dave Armstrong).
The Sayle Gallery held a few really contemporary shows during the year, the first of which was ‘Turning Point’. The exhibition showcased the work of five artists with international recognition, including Turner Prize winner, Mark Wallinger. It explored the differing relationships that we have with the sea, coastline and Island culture. The other artists exhibiting at this show were Manxman and artist, Kevin Atherton; Keith McIntyre, Head of Art at the University of Northumbria; Susan Collins, Professor of Art at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, and artist Shona Illingworth.
Artist in residence, Eloise White, had a very successful end of year show at the gallery with her work focusing on mental health, which resonated with many.
Another show of note at The Sayle was BC20FK17 curated by Helen Fox and which featured ‘She Sells Sea Shells’, her scallop shell installation (first shown in the Sailor’s Shelter at the Isle of Man Art Festival in Peel – more on that in a minute), and some fabulous work by Vici Blackburn, Ian Coulson and Phil Kneen. Helen also graduated with a Masters degree from Northumbria University along with colleague Colette Davies during the year.
Julie and Alice Fayle, mother and daughter, exhibited together in ‘Cut from the Same Cloth’, and the Society of Architects closed their year of raising awareness of the built environment with their show at the Sayle featuring the winners of the #ilovethisbuilding competition and some of Patricia Tutt’s fabulous photography.
Besides all of the great shows at the galleries there were lots of other art events. Noa Bakehouse again played its part, hosting a few art exhibitions the most notable of which for me were Graham Rider’s ‘Around the Mountain’ and Chrissie Moss’s ‘Cornucopia’. Lovely work from both.
Noa also hosted several of the Isle of Man Creative Industries’ public meetings. These have been very successful and attract a wide audience and are great for networking. They also hosted a couple of the Isle of Man Drawing Club’s life drawing sessions after its popularity forced Kim Graziano, the founder behind this great new group, to move from the Embassy Room at The British and to make it a ticketed event to ensure everyone had somewhere to sit! A good problem to have I think. I went along to one class and was pleased to produce something not too terrible (although lots of the other work really did show up my novice status).
I went to my first ‘Wearable Art’ event this year held at the Youth Arts Centre on Kensington Road. This was lots of fun with some amazing outfits inspired by all sorts of topics – everything from Donald Trump to local charities.
Whist vaguely on the subject of youth and education, the end of year show at UCM this year was particularly good. There was fabulous work by the students, not least Daniel Price (who also had a show at Studio 42). I was particularly taken with Ferghus Doyle’s work and also Samantha Mathewson, all artists to look out for in the future I’m sure.
Staying with art students for a wee bit longer, the Sovereign Art Prize finalists were exhibited at The Sayle Gallery with the winners recently announced. The public vote went to Ella Garvey and the judge’s vote to Alice Lodge. Well done to them.
The Isle of Man Art Society held two shows during the year in an empty unit at The Village Walk in Onchan, an ideal space for them given the amount of work they have to show. Both shows were generously sponsored by Moore Stephens. These shows are interesting in the range of work on display from established, professional artists through to amateur hobbyists. Here are a couple of pictures from the autumn show.
Over the May bank holiday weekend, a regular spot now in calendar, we had the Isle of Man Creative Network’s Isle of Man Art Festival. This year the venues were island-wide, finally reaching the north of the island with locations in Sulby and Ramsey. It really is a great event and I had lots of fun calling in on the different venues with my friend, Sarah, who is the best companion I could wish for as she has endless patience waiting around for me and organising refreshments while I chat to the Artists. Thanks Sarah, you’re the best!
Moving on through the year, my pre-Tynwald Day trip to St. John’s was another favourite outing, when I visited Breesha Maddrell and the Culture Vannin team at their HQ on the main road opposite our world famous grassy mound. Adam Berry had been working his magic there with a brilliant mural and Gary Myers had been commissioned to produce a rather fab infographic version of Tynwald Hill. It was fascinating to hear Breesha talk about the work that they do and I came away with a much greater appreciation of the culture and heritage around me.
Some artists had particular successes this year. Nicola Dixon had an amazing year with two projects she had been working on for some time coming to fruition. The first was the release of her Green Mann stamp collection followed in recent weeks by the quite stunning regeneration panels in Peel.
Not only that, Nicola also turned out another brilliant commission for Manannan Court which opened earlier this year and fellow artist Julia Ashby-Smyth produced this great ‘road map’ for mental health recovery based on the TT Course.
Jeremy Paul had a solo show at The Isle Gallery and was also commissioned by Marks & Spencer to produce a woodland scene for one of their biscuit tins. What a shame he doesn’t have his name on it (apart from the ones he has signed of course!).
Svetlana Cameron produced yet more stunning commissions. Her portrait of ballerina Natalia Osipova and a commission for a child portrait raised £22,000 for the Gift of Life charity at a high profile event in London.
On the Directory I had the very great pleasure to publish guest posts by Zoe Guilford, Jane Jelski, Anthea Young, Hannah Murphy, Fiona Helleur and Emma Callin. Many thanks to all of them for taking the time to do this. I was also delighted to publish several poems, one by Jera illustrated by Bruno Cavellec and some absolute stunners from Janet Lees, illustrated with her own lovely photography work (one of which I’ve included here).
Bruno Cavellec had another busy year. Amongst other things he produced the latest in his series of posters for the Isle of Man Film Festival and also book covers for Graham Hamer and Michelle Tonnesen.
Phil Kneen not only exhibited in his first show at the Sayle Gallery (BC20FK17) but continued his work documenting the local fishing industry as well as producing more of his fabulous portrait photography, which for me is where he excels.
Rebecca Odessa also produced some fabulous work this year, her beautiful collages are getting even better and are a delight to see in real life.
Manx National Heritage has not only been super supportive of the Directory but they too have also put on some great shows. One of the stand-out shows of the year has to be Eileen Schaer’s solo show ‘Painted Dreams’ at the House of Manannin.
At the museum itself, the ‘Manx Tholtans’ exhibition is still on. It’s a wonderful collection of photograpic work and interesting pieces rescued from these rather beautiful, crumbling ruins, along with Niamh’s wonderful ceramics which proved very successful in the Hodgson Loom ‘Time’ competition which I mentioned at the beginning of this post.
In the run up to the end of the year, things just got better and better. First of all there was the Peel Art Crawl, another day of fun and networking for me and Sarah along with some fascinating facts about Peel and getting lost in its lovely old winding streets and cut-throughs. There was also Katy Mitchell’s ‘Christmas in the Yard’ prior to her departure on her adventure ‘down-under’. Hopefully she will be back sometime next year full of inspiration and raring to get back to the potting wheel.
A group of young artists set up shop in the Village Walk in Onchan as ‘Keird Collective’ including Alice Fayle, Kim Graziano, Grainne Sheard and Jimmy Duggan (ok, not so young I guess) amongst others. Jimmy also got some more street art done too.
And then there was the fabulous Christmas Artisan Market at Grenaby. A little hub of loveliness, they got the formula just right with a fire on the go, lights, Flo the Coffee Van serving scrumptiousness and a wonderful array of buy-able handmade local goodies and art. Claire Pearse of Element.Isle, another Artist whose business is going from strength to strength was run off her feet. Nicola Dixon and Little Tree Soaps had the fab wooden lodge (not sure what to call it) and it was great to see Julia Ashby Smyth tucked into Rosie Glassey’s studio too.
Finally, a word for Darren Jackson who re-created his giant Loaghtan on Douglas Head in the summer, produced the fabulous deer ice sculpture at the Edinburgh Ice Festival and then delighted Christmas shoppers in Strand Street with his awesome Santa Train. What an amazing year for him and the promise of more to come form Farmyard Studios together with his wife, Steph Quayle.
Wow, what a year. I haven’t mentioned everything either so my apologies if I have left anyone out. I think it just remains for me to thank the supporters of the Directory during 2017, you – the readers and followers for making it worth my while putting these posts together, The Stars Group (formerly PokerStars) and Manx National Heritage. Without the support of a financial sponsor this would be so much harder so my very grateful thanks.
If you’d like to receive a link to the news into your inbox each week, please subscribe using the new form in the righthand sidebar (on the home page), and as ever, please Share to help raise awareness of our amazing local artists. Also, if you haven’t yet done my annual survey, please follow this link to have your say on the best shows of 2017 and to provide some feedback on the website. Responses are anonymous, however, if you go to the Facebook page once you have completed it and put ‘Done’ in the comments of the post pinned to the top of the page you will be in with a chance to win a £30 voucher for Laxey Woollen Mills / The Hodgson Loom Gallery.
Wishing you all, all the very best for 2018. May your year be inspiring, fun, creative, joyful, colourful and well, just generally wonderful!