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Isle of Man Art News – 27 February 2017


The News is kindly Supported by the Isle of Man Arts Council.

Wow! Talk about raising the bar. What an exciting show at The Sayle. I was at the preview on Friday evening and was really impressed with how cosmopolitan it feels.

When I called into the gallery last Wednesday it was in the process of being transformed. A wall had been built cordoning off around a third of the space which now hosts the Mark Wallinger exhibit but it still had to be clad in black fabric and the plinth that displays Kevin Atherton’s work had not even been started. I’ve no idea how they managed to pull it all off by Friday evening but they did and it’s been well worth the effort. The gallery would certainly stand up to scrutiny by any art professional and indeed, Michael Sandle RA, who I had the pleasure of being introduced to on Friday, was very happy to see the gallery fulfilling its remit.


I talked to Kevin Atherton for a few minutes about his work ‘Log’ which he made originally in 1981 and has now animated as ‘Log II’. It’s a series of sketches documenting his boat journey from the Isle of Man to Liverpool and was originally shown in Liverpool. He told me that he had thought about exhibiting it there again but feels that it’s more relevant to people who live on the Island and that he thinks they were more likely to understand it.

At the beginning of the series you can see the lifeboat station and the Tower of Refuge, then as you progress through the pages many of them turn to simple lines representing the horizon, some with seagulls. On average each sketch took 17 seconds to do and over the course of the 4 hour journey this translates to over 800 pages. As you  get towards the end of the journey the sketches capture the change in horizon and the Liverpool shoreline. I think if you were to look at this work without understanding it you would likely be critical. Indeed the original work has graffiti on it such as “6/10” which Kevin has addressed in his animation rather than removing it from the original pages.

When you visit the gallery do pick up the information sheet about the different exhibits as you will get so much more from the show if you take a few minutes to read through it. 

I asked Helen Fox, curator the show, a few questions just before the preview opened. Apologies for the background noise – people were starting to arrive as I recorded this. I’ve since ordered a tripod for my camera as my arms were aching trying to hold the camera still – and I need to do something about sorting the sound out too! It’s all a bit of a learning curve so please bear with me.

I also talked to Keith McIntyre briefly about his work (as it was getting quite busy and noisy by then) and managed to record just about the whole thing out of focus, and wobbly due to not knowing how to use my camera properly and the lack of a tripod, but it’s still interesting to hear what he says about his work.

Here are a few more photo’s, taken by someone who is obviously eminently more competent with a camera than me!  (As with all the photos you can click to view them in the lightbox).

It’s a great show and is on until 26th March so you’ve got a whole month to go and see it – don’t miss it because this could well be the best show of 2017.

 Julia Smyth and Nicola Dixon were finally able to reveal their latest commissions for the new mental health unit at Manannan Court which is due to open in March. The original works have been blown up in size to create these fabulous focal points. Julia’s ‘Road Map to Recovery’ is surrounded by works of the patients from the unit and her own lovely personality shines through – I love the road marker that says ‘Unexpected Hug’.

Nicola Dixon had a challenge on her hands as she usually works fairly small and was given a colour palette to work to, but she’s done a fantastic job I’m sure you’ll agree. As with Julia’s work, the picture has been enlarged for the reception area. It’s actually several pieces in one as the four corner pictures depict the names of the different suites – ‘Harbour’, ‘Glen’, ‘River’ and ‘Spring’ – although the ‘Spring’ suite has not yet been designed. They have been used on the signage around the building. Well done to both of them – and also to Simon Park who I believe has ‘a wonderfully serene wall in one of the lounges’, although I don’t have a picture of that to share with you as yet.

The Department of Economic Development has launched a new creative industries booklet. The booklet titled ‘Build a Career in the Creative Industries’ focuses on creative industries which produce wealth and jobs through the creation and exploitation of ideas using individual creativity, skills and talent.

Daphne Caine MHK, Political Member at the Department of Economic Development with responsibility for Creative Industries, commented:

‘Creativity and innovation are key skills that can facilitate economic growth throughout all sectors of the economy. Creative Industries in the Isle of Man offer a range of diverse and exciting opportunities, often celebrating our unique culture and heritage. The Department of Economic Development is able to offer support to Creative Industry businesses via our grants assistance schemes, by providing networking opportunities and facilitating a wide range of projects which frequently include film and television productions.’

Jane Jelski, Senior Manager for Special Projects at the Department, added:

‘The Department also works with a range of partners to support collaboration and celebrate grass roots creative activity in the Isle of Man. This has included support for a range of events, workshops and regular industry skills development evenings held at Noa Bakehouse.’

Sub sectors included within the Creative Industries include advertising and marketing, architecture, crafts, design, IT, publishing, museums and heritage, performing and visual arts and film.

Build a Career in the Creative Industries is available to download at: Printed copies are available from the Department of Economic Development.

The Department of Economic Development, in partnership with the wider Isle of Man Creative Industries sector, is hosting the next networking and skills event for creative professionals from 6pm – 8pm, 16th March at Noa Bakehouse. The event is free to attend and pre-registration is not required.

Please contact for more information.

 Here are a few pictures for you from the current Hodgson Loom Exhibition which is the Isle of Man Photographic Society’s show. A nice little show to pop into if you’re in Laxey (and the tea and cake next door is very good too).

Dates for your Diary

On now – Rob Jones’s Drawn Steel Through the Seasons – Milntown Gardens, Ramsey

On now – Western Photographic Society Exhibition at the Manx Museum

On now – 24 February – Bob Hitchin’s Digi-rama at the Erin Arts Centre

On now – 11 March Manx Landscapes and Seascapes at The Isle Gallery (Group Show)

On now – 11 March Hodgson Loom – Isle of Man Photographic Society Exhibition

On now – 27  March – Turning Point at The Sayle Gallery

28 February – Cut off point for Creative Network Website update

1 March – Sarah Hendy’s new arts show on Manx Radio, 5.30 – 6.00pm (and every Wednesday)

6 March – Adult Workshop – Ceramic Decorative Dishes at The Isle Gallery 10.00am – 1.00pm

16 March 6.00pm – 8.00pm DED Networking and Skills event for creative professionals at Noa Bakehouse

27 March – Jimmy Duggan Solo Show at The Isle Gallery

And finally, here’s this week’s round up of images from Social Media. The colour palette is a bit ‘same-y’ this week I think. Still, I hope you enjoy having a look through them.

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. 

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Isle of Man Art News – 20 February 2017


The News is kindly Supported by the Isle of Man Arts Council.

Thursday night saw the Creative Network’s social evening at The Sayle Gallery and there was a good turnout to hear about the plans for the Isle of Man Art Festival to be held again over the early May bank holiday weekend, 29th April to 1st May. I was greeted with ‘Ah – the ubiquitous Jane Hall’ which made me laugh. I’ve never been described as ‘ubiquitous’ before.

Planning for the Festival is well underway with a number of changes this year including fewer venues in Peel but some new ones, including a couple in the north of the island and another at the Airport. If you haven’t already been in touch with any of the committee about participating please get in touch with Myra Gilbert or Rosie Glassey as soon as possible.

I’m really delighted that Rob Jones now has some of his fabulous sculptural pieces installed at Milntown Gardens, Ramsey. Rob had a really successful exhibition at The Sayle Gallery last year and in the survey I did recently it came out as being one of the best received shows of 2016. Rob says in his Facebook post that it’s been hard work but he’s happy with the results and he thanked Adam Quayle (head gardener) without whose creativity and foresight he said it wouldn’t have happened and he also extended his thanks to Juan Quane and Liam Faragher, Vicky Crellin aand Paul Ogden. His thanks went out as well to the Arts Council who have supported Rob and “recognised the importance of bringing art to the public”.

Rob later added some technical information on the plinths saying that they’re not quite as simple as they look; the base is solid but the top is hollow, lowering the centre of gravity and they weigh around a quarter of a tonne each. They were made by Greg Wright of BPD Jurby and Rob says he did “a grand job on short notice”and that “it’s been a pleasure to work with him”.

Great job all – they look fantastic. These lovely photos have been taken by Simon Park (his details can be found in the Directory section too).

Ice sculptor, Darren Jackson, has been competing in the north of Finland, six hours away from Helsinki, against 11 other teams in the 2017 World Ice Carving Championships. Darren and his team mate, Neil Smith from London, submitted their design for this year’s theme ‘Togetherness’ which ties in with Finland’s celebrations of Independence being held throughout 2017.

Darren and Neil’s creation was around a brown bear which is the national symbol of Finland. Working in temperatures of minus 10 degrees to create the piece it stands at over four meters tall. It’s been constructed from around 30 blocks of ice, each one measuring 50cm by 50cm by 1m – which works out at about 7 tonnes of ice.

Unfortunately they didn’t win the competition, being ‘pipped at the post’ for the sculptor’s choice, but it’s still a pretty amazing piece I’m sure you’ll agree. Darren posted up photographs of the other entries and no doubt you’ll be interested to see them, so here are a few of the photos – click to enlarge and scroll through. The winner was the first picture in the gallery.

I don’t normally comment on political issues, but it looks like Ramsey Courthouse is again a hot topic and is likely to be sold on the open market. I think the old Courthouse would make a fantastic venue for the arts – be it a permanent gallery, art education, mixed use to include performing arts, etc.. Rather than let this building, which is the heart of the town, become another coffee shop or restaurant, I think we should have a bit of diversity and use the building to provide a venue for those in the North of the Island. You can have your say by completing a short survey here:

Phil Kneen posted up a tantalising snippet from his Calais article this week which is too good not to share:

‘Christmas Day, 2015 – I’m sitting, cross-legged, in a three-metre square plywood cabin; around me, huddled in a circle, are eight other men, all from Kuwait. The only light comes from a single, inadequate window to my left. A thick, dirty, brown and blue patterned curtain in the doorway blocks any remaining light from the grim outside world. I share with them the beer and wine that I’ve brought; they share their duty-free herbs with me. Everyone in this room is here out of choice; the only difference between us is that I can leave The Jungle at any time, night or day, and go home. These eight Kuwaitis, and about six thousand other people who call this squalid shantytown on the outskirts of Calais home, don’t have that option. Most of the people here are navigating a journey that cannot be reversed…’

“That’s the first paragraph of a two thousand word piece I submitted to The Telegraph just before Christmas last year; I heard back from them to say it was an ‘outstanding piece’, but they never published it.”

Let’s hope he finds an international publisher for it soon as I for one am itching to read the whole thing.

The forthcoming exhibition at the Sayle Gallery in Douglas, “Turning Point”, marks an important stage in the Gallery’s development. It will not only bring in the work of significant artists from the contemporary art world beyond our Island shores but it will also mark a turning point for the gallery as it embarks on new directions and journeys.

The exhibition showcases the work of five artists with international recognition, including Turner Prize winner, Mark Wallinger. This will be the first time a Turner Prize winner has shown work on the Isle of Man. The exhibition brings together works which question what it is to live on an Island; issues of home; rites of passage; isolation; aspiration; boundaries … It explores different relationships that we have with the sea, coastline and Island Culture. Besides Mark Wallinger: 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 have contributed artwork to the show.
Helen Fox, Programme Manager for Art, Design and Media at the University College, Isle of Man, in collaboration with the Sayle Gallery has curated the show as part of her research project which looks at what kind of frameworks we need for the visibility of contemporary art practice in an Island context; and questions how artists are affected by the communities they make work in and how that community responds to that work. Sincere thanks go to local companies, T H Colebourn, Osborn Carpets and Typhoon House, for their valued support and also to the Department of Education and Children and Isle of Man Arts Council who have made staging this exhibition possible.
There will be a Panel Discussion held on Saturday 25th February 1 – 4 pm in the gallery, where artists, students, educators and the general public are invited to join Keith McIntyre, Kevin Atherton and Helen Fox in a discussion: ‘Contemporary Art Practice and What it Means in an Island Context’.

The Arts Council is looking for an Artist in Residence to create a piece of Artwork for the new Henry Bloom Noble primary school.

Jeremy Paul attracted quite a crowd for his latest presentation to the Isle of Man Photographic Society at Thie Ellyn, with enthusiasts queuing outside an hour before the start time. I think they’d better book a bigger venue next time! The evening consisted of two presentations, the first covering his visit to Yellowstone National Park in 2015 and the second, his trip to Costa Rica in February 2016. He uses his photographs as references for his fabulous paintings. Here are a couple of his pictures inspired by his travels – the wolves from Yellowstone and the Kingfisher from Costa Rica.

I don’t think anyone will be queuing up to see my holiday snaps anytime soon.

Dates for your Diary

On now – Western Photographic Society Exhibition at the Manx Museum

On now – 24 February – Bob Hitchin’s Digi-rama at the Erin Arts Centre

On now – Hodgson Loom Photographic Exhibition

On now – Manx Landscapes and Seascapes at The Isle Gallery (Group Show)

20 – 24 February – Half Term – a variety of Workshops at The Isle Gallery

21 February – Draw Folks, Fairies & Themselves with Juan Moore at the Manx Museum (ages 8 -16 years)

23 February – Draw Victorious Vikings in Valhalla with Juan Moore at the House of Manannan (ages 8 -16 years)

23 February – Me, Beth Espey and Christy DeHaven on Women Today, Manx Radio at 2pm.

24 February – 10 March – Turning Point at The Sayle Gallery

25 February – 1pm-4pm Panel Discussion at The Sayle (see details above)

28 February – Cut off point for Creative Network Website update

Here’s this week’s round up of images from Social Media. Enjoy.

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.

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Art I Own – Helen Fox

By Susie Cox

Most art teachers over their careers build up a collection of students’ work. This piece was made a good few years ago now and was created by Susie Cox. Tutor Linda Featherstone used to do a figure project in ceramics and got the students to work expressively with the clay. These plump dancers were adorable. The end of year show at College is a good way to pick up exciting and fresh pieces of work by our up and coming artists and designers.

Helen Fox