May Days, High Days and Holidays!

What a fabulous time we had at the Isle of Man Art Festival, over May Bank Holiday weekend! We’re so grateful to everyone who came up to see us at Grenaby Studios, and to Flo the Coffee Van for keeping hoardes of happy visitors well fed and watered (or should we say ‘coffee-d’?!) with delicious homemade cakes and beverages! You can see a few shots of the weekend below. We’re already looking forward to the next one!

Thanks also to our guest artists Nicola Dixon, Pauline Quaye and Mark Boyd. If you missed the festival, you can still see some of their work up at the studios!

Grenaby Studios will be open as usual on Fridays and Saturdays (10am – 4pm), but closed for the first two weeks of June. If you’re on Island, we hope that you have a fabulous practice week and TT week!

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Isle of Man Art Festival

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Lambs are springing about in the fields; bluebells have begun to unfurl their delicate violet-blue petals atop of graceful stems; and snow-white gannets, edged with black and yellow, are diving in the bay. It’s truly spring and we LOVE it!

This May bank holiday weekend marks a busy, and joyous, time up at Grenaby Studios, as we look forward to taking part in the Isle of Man Art Festival: an ‘annual three-day celebration of visual art’, which takes place across the whole island.

Alongside the resident Grenaby artists (Graham Hall, Claire – Elementisle, Rosie Glassey, Graham Rider, Juliet Petrarulo & Deborah Tatum), the fantastic Nicola Dixon and Pauline Quaye will be guest artists for the weekend. There’ll be a lot of opportunity to see us all at work, and to chat to us about what we do. We look forward to giving a big warm welcome to our visitors!

This year, we also have something *VERY* exciting to whet your appetite: Flo the Coffee Van will be on site for the whole weekend! Flo is a beautiful, cream-coloured, vintage 1968 Citroen Horsebox that has been lovingly restored & fully kitted out to serve delicious homemade cakes, tea and coffee. Flo’s owner, Annabel, is one of the best bakers we know and we’re particularly enamoured by her amazing sticky ginger cake *be still our beating hearts!*. So why not enjoy a cup of tea and a piece of cake while you’re visiting the studios!

The official launch for the Art Festival will take place at Noa Bakehouse (Douglas, Isle of Man) on Thursday 20th April between 6.30pm and 8.30pm, and will be a great opportunity to hear more about this year’s event.

Hope to see you up at Grenaby soon! If you fancy visiting us a little sooner, we’ll be open Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd April, from 10am – 4pm.

 

Spring has sprung!

Sunlight is streaming through our studio windows up at Grenaby and we’re so glad to have reclaimed that extra hour of daylight… even if it was a little harder getting out of bed this morning! The days are warming up and the Island is studded with bright pops of colour from daffodils, crocuses and other spring flowers. We’re looking forward to the bluebells arriving in a couple of weeks, carpeting the glens and hedgerows in a beautiful blue hue.

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With April on the horizon, we’re gearing up for the Isle of Man Arts Festival, which will be taking place between Saturday 29th April and Monday 1st May. Grenaby Studios will be open over the three days, and alongside our own work, we’ll be showcasing work by guest artists including Nicola Dixon and Pauline Quaye. We’d love to see you up here!

Graham Rider is also preparing for his first on-Island solo exhibition, which will take place at Noa Bakehouse in Douglas from 12th April – 2nd May. You can see some of his work here. The opening night for the exhibition is Tuesday 11th April, from 5.30pm – 7pm, to which you are mostly warmly invited!

Just a reminder that we’re open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10am until 4pm, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

‘I must go down to the sea again…’

The pull of the sea is strong for Islanders, and that’s certainly true for all of us at Grenaby. I think as artists we often turn to our surroundings for inspiration, and whether glass like on a beautiful summers day, or the tumultuous and volatile of a winters storm, the sea can evoke such strong feelings.

Claire and her family enjoy spending time together walking along the beautiful beaches of the Island, collecting intricately patterned shells which are carefully kept for use in her jewellery designs.

One piece that is particularly inspired by the sea is her Ocean Wave Cuff, with flowing organically formed strands of silver, covered in individually cast silver shells, with sparkling ocean-hued gemstones catching and reflecting the light. We love this photo of a trio of Claire’s cuffs nestling on the shore. Credit to the very talented Mark Boyd for the photograph!

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Graham Rider has created this wonderful painting of the waves crashing in on Fenella Beach, on St. Patrick’s Isle in Peel. We love how he has captured the energy of the sea, and the translucency of the waves with the light of the sun shining through them. Graham has a solo exhibition coming up in April at Noa Bakehouse;  The exhibition opens on the 11th April from 5.30 – 7.30pm, then continues through until the 2nd May.  Be sure to add this one to your diaries!

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Rosie has long been fascinated by the wonderful colours and shapes of fish swimming in shoals, likening it to an underwater murmuration. In her early twenties, she spent a summer fishing off the coast of Sark in the Channel Islands, setting the nets one day and helping to pull them in the following morning, laden heavy with fish. She particularly loved sending down long lines of hooks as dawn was breaking: on a good day, each hook would capture a brilliant blue and silver iridescent mackerel.  

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Left: Paper garlands, with shimmering mica paint, fluttering in the breeze. Centre: patterned mackerel, etched onto faux suede. This tactile fabric allows the mackerel to ‘move’ as different shades are reflected by the light. Right: A wooden mobile with enamel-effect paint, glinting in the sun as the breeze catches it.

After a recent chat about boats in Claire’s studio, we were reminded of a shelter prototype that Graham Hall created a couple of years ago. Based partly on a boat, and partly on a whale, it incorporates both wood and metal….. oh, and it makes a great hat too don’t you think!? 

And to finish with our nautical theme for today, here are a couple of songs by interGaelic vocal group Aon Teanga (meaning ‘One Tongue’), that Ruth sings with. The first song – an uplifting medley – takes you on a voyage beginning in Ireland, moving through to the Isle of Man, and finishing with a rousing piece of ‘mouth music’ from Scotland. 

Featuring singers: Eoghan O Ceannabhain (Ireland), Ruth Keggin (Isle of Man) and Mary Ann Kennedy (Scotland).

Going around the Mountain

With his first on-island exhibition, coming up soon at Noa Bakehouse in Douglas, we wanted to share some of Graham Rider’s beautiful oil paintings with you. Graham moved to the Isle of Man last year, and has been enjoying exploring and capturing more rugged land and wilder seas than he was used to seeing in Norfolk, being particularly inspired by the ‘sublimeness of landscape, its ever changing moods and the feeling of awe we experience in front of it.’

The paintings in his upcoming exhibition, ‘Going around the Mountain’, explore some of the landmarks seen from the top of Snaefell – the Island’s only mountain – reaching out east, west, north and south, featuring the rugged hills scarred by running surface water.  Graham’s fascination with the dramatic coastline, the beautiful greens and blues of the Irish Sea, clean and crisp, throwing up stones and glistening seaweed, and the patterns created by the ebb and flow of the water, can be clearly seen in his new work.

 

Claire has been gemstone shopping, ready for some beautiful new projects this spring. She’s also been getting very excited about agates, with good reason! These beautiful fine-grained quartz stones come in a wide range of colours and patterns, and the intricate layers and tones of colour can be seen when they are held up to the light. Here’s what you see through the beautiful Dendritic agate when you hold it up to the light…. it’s like looking though a window and the silhouette of trees beyond!

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From the start of March, Claire will also be sending out an ElementIsle newsletter each month, with exclusive offers, studio news and special events. If you’d like to be included in this, she would love for you to sign up here. It’ll be a treat for the eyes!

 

Our resident songstress Ruth was in the international press last week – featured in an article by French national newspaper ‘Le Figaro’! She was chosen by the newspaper as one of the six ambassadors for the Celtic nations (Ireland, Scotland, Isle of Man, Wales, Brittany and Cornwall), which is a great honour. It’s a lovely piece (if you can read French)! Find out more about Ruth on her Facebook page or website – she’s gearing up for spring and summer musicking!

We’re looking forward to welcoming Graham Hall back into the fold up here in Grenaby – he’s managed to escape the worst of the wintry weather for a couple of weeks, while he’s been off on his travels. We’re excited to see what new ideas he has come back with, after seeing photographs of some of the fabulous murals he came across on his journey in the Azores and Portugal, and for us to continue our collaborations. The ideas blackboard is ready and waiting!

In about a month from now, the clocks will be moving forward (‘yippee!’, say all the Grenaby artists!), and on the topic of clocks, Rosie has created this intricate mandala clock, from engraved and painted wood. Below, you can see a collage of the creation process from the initial concept, to a cardboard prototype, and finally the finished product, which sits in Rosie’s new studio ‘Ballalona Arts’. The technology with which Rosie works is cutting-edge, and engraving possibilities are huge – if you have a question or an idea that you’d like to discuss, she would be delighted for you to get in touch.

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We hope that you too are looking forward to springing into Spring. If you haven’t yet seen it, do check out ‘Countryfile’ on BBC iPlayer (broadcast Sunday 26th February) as it came from the Isle of Man. Well worth a watch!

All the best from all of us here at Grenaby Studios! 

The Art of Storytelling…..

When visitors pop up to Grenaby Studios, they often ask about the stories behind, and inspiration for, the pieces that we create.

The natural materials we use often tell their own story, and so when Graham created this beautiful Manx hawthorn jar, we thought we would tell you a bit about this magical tree!

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The Hawthorn tree can be recognised by its gnarled and twisted branches, white blossoms in May, and peppering of beautiful red berries in the autumn (known as ‘haws’, and which make beautiful jellies, wines and ketchups rich in anti-oxidants) but did you know that it also has strong folklore connections?

A glut of berries on the hawthorn or blackthorn tree is supposed to forecast a severe winter (get the knitwear out!) and in Ireland it was once believed that hanging a sprig of hawthorn in a milk parlour would help the cows to produce more and creamier milk. What we never expected to discover, however, was some Manx folklore about the Hawthorn tree rooted (sorry… couldn’t resist!) to the parish of Malew, home to Grenaby Studios…

Manx historian A. W. Moore wrote about a place called ‘Chibbyr Unjin’ in his book ‘Surnames and Place Names of the Isle of Man’. It is said that a hawthorn tree, rather than an Ash Tree, grew at this place, which was near to an ancient Keeill (a tiny cell, or church). The well no longer exists, but Moore describes the folk customs that came to be associated with it, when it was once in use:

“The water of this well is supposed to have curative properties. The patients who came to it, took a mouthful of water, retaining it in their mouths till they had twice walked round the well. They then took a piece of cloth from a garment which they had worn, wetted it with the water from the well, and hung it on the hawthorn-tree which grew there. When the cloth had rotted away, the cure was supposed to be effected.”

There’s some speculation that the well was near Keeill Unjin, in Grenaby itself! We do love a good bit of folklore, and it’s even more intriguing to find some on our doorstep!

Claire has also been channelling forest-vibes, creating this beautiful ‘Druantia’ ring from recycled silver and solid gold, set with a brilliant teal topaz.

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Having spent a bit of time researching Celtic and Norse myths, and their celebration and worship of nature in the forms of Gods and Goddesses, Claire felt that this ring had a bit of an otherworldly and magical feel. The name ‘Druantia’ comes from the Gallic Tree Goddess, an archetype of the eternal mother as seen in the evergreen boughs. Her name is believed to be derived from the Celtic word for oak trees, “drus” or “deru”.

Elsewhere at Grenaby, Rosie Glassey has been settling in and you’ll find her studio Ballalona Arts open on Friday’s and Saturday’s 10am-4pm.  Rosie’s working away designing and making all sorts of clocks, word plaques, 3 dimensional hand painted garlands and brooches alongside the stone house signs that she is known for, and she’s been spending time on new mandala designs and they are turning out beautifully.  This week she plans to work on wedding items. There will be all sorts of samples available to spark inspiration from wedding planners to intricately cut cake toppers and banners, to “something blue” engraved faux suede labels which are designed to be sewn into the wedding outfits to commemorate such a special day.  So if you’re planning a wedding this year, pop into the studio for a chat and a cuppa with Rosie.

 

When the wild wind blows….

As Storm Doris blew into the Island this week, we all hunkered down here at Grenaby….. Log fires were burning and lots of tea has been consumed while we all worked on a multitude of projects.   One of the wonderful things about working here is the chance to share idea’s and chat about our work as well, as offering support to one another.  

We’d like to give a big, warm welcome to our newest artist, who has  joined us up at Grenaby this week!  Rosie Glassey of Ballalona Arts has been designing and creating stone engravings for nearly twenty years, from standing stones and boulders to photo etchings, clocks and awards. More recently she has been working with other materials including wood, acrylic, card and textiles and she’s looking forward to creating lots of quirky designs, many of which can be personalised.  Rosie will be opening her studio from next weekend during our usual weekend opening on Fridays and Saturdays from 10-4, so do pop in and see us and take the opportunity to see Rosie’s work.

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Graham and Claire have had the chalk out on the blackboard in Claire’s studio this week… new collaborative plans are a-brewing with ancient and modern mythology, exploring the importance of symbols and magic. Oooh!

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Claire’s been in the studio beavering away fulfilling some rather beautiful Valentine’s day orders for some lucky ladies this week, and is working on a new collection which she hopes to be sharing soon.

Our new resident artist Graham Rider is in the midst of preparing for a solo exhibition which is taking place at Noa Bakehouse in April, showcasing his new work exploring the Manx landscape since his arrival on the Island last year.  We’ve been lucky enough to see some of the work in progress and we can assure you, you will be in for a treat. 

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Thanks everyone, and we look forward to seeing you at the studios soon, in the mean time, another date to pop in the diaries….. The Isle of Man Art Festival takes place this year 29th April – 1st May!

New beginnings, New Year!

Happy New Year from all of us at Grenaby Studios! Thank you all SO much for your support over the last year. We’re all back together now, after a lovely, successful and utterly bonkers Christmas and although the festive period is over, there’s a lot going on. Pop up and see us on Fridays and Saturdays if you can (we’re open 10am – 4pm!), and in the meantime let us fill you in on our news…

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Graham has been a busy bee creating fab wooden handles for replica Viking swords – these will be used in the Islands’ schools to teach all about our rich Viking heritage. The photo here is most definitely not to scale; don’t be trying to open your letters with these beauties!

Meanwhile, Claire has been exploring new designs based on Viking and Celtic stonework and cross designs in the form of brilliant silver amulets… we can’t wait to see how they turn out!

Here’s a few photos of a work-in-progress that Claire has created this week, letting her imagination run free with solid silver, gorgeous Dendritic Agate, White Topaz and touches of 18k gold. Cue a few ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from the rest of us up at Grenaby!

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Just before Christmas, we welcomed a new artist into our fold: Graham Rider, a landscape painter who has recently moved to the Island. With two Grahams, we’re having to come up with nicknames to make sure we don’t get confused (suggestions gratefully welcomed, lol!)

So, there are lots of things in the pipeline, including plans for collaborating with other artists and a final piece of exciting news before we go on our way for today: in just a couple of weeks we’re looking forward to welcoming another new artist up to the Grenaby. We promise we’ll tell you more soon!

Artists in Residence

Graham Hall

At 15 Graham apprecenticed as an engineer and spent 40 years in the manufacturing industry, for many years in senior management roles. In that time, he enjoyed designing and developing most of all, though it was never a major part of his working life. Graham began working as a wood turner about 15 years ago, leading him to take on a studio at Grenaby. With the influence of other artists, he began to develop this thoughts, combining turning with carving.

He loves the forms found in nature and they have a profound influence on his work. Admiring the simple but perfect forms, Graham tries to reflect that in his work. He now spends more time working in his studio and is looking forward to developing a series of new projects and ideas, finding excitement in this new phase of life.

Claire Pearse

Claire is a Manx-born jeweller and silversmith. Returning home to the Isle of Man in 2015 following time living in Scotland, Denmark and the USA, her jewellery designs are influenced by her travels, and especially by her Island home, its landscape, the sea, folklore and Celtic and Viking heritage.

Claire specialises in artisan fine jewellery and sculpture, from the simple everyday to dramatic one-of-a-kind statement pieces, with an emphasis on designs created in eco-friendly sustainable silver, bronze and ethically-sourced gemstones.

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Graham Rider

Prior to moving to the Isle of Man, Graham was based in Norfolk and has wide-ranging experience of working within the arts: he has been a curriculum manager for Arts, Crafts and Music; an art teacher; and has worked for a number of years as a visual artist.

As a painter, Graham has explored the intricacies of Urban scapes, with high-profile customers including the likes of Ernst & Young, Guardian Royal Properties, and Railtrack, and has had work exhibited in London and the National Railway Museum in York.

Graham is enjoying exploring the beautiful countryside of the Isle of Man, and through specialising in landscape painting, he hopes to capture an essence of the ever-changing, beautiful place in which he now lives.

Juliet Petrarulo

Juliet is a painter, who holds a first class honours BA degree in fine art. Much like her co-artists at Grenaby, nature forms one of her great inspirations and she can often be found sketching or painting with vibrant colours, drawn to the natural patterns and forms of wildlife and natural objects. Hailed as ‘a most visionary painter’, Juliet explores childhood memories in a visual context, and has produced a children’s book: ‘Adventures at Sea’.

Ruth Keggin

Another Grenaby team-member, Ruth works as a musician and teacher and can often be found happily humming in Claire’s workshop! A Manx Gaelic singer with two successful solo albums to her name, Ruth has performed at major festivals with her band, including Celtic Connections, the Festival Interceltique de Lorient, and has appeared on the likes of BBC Radio 3, BBC 2 and BBC Alba with live performances, interviews, and even a little bit of presenting!

Caroline Cameron

 

Deborah Tatum

Grenaby Studios

No one knows precisely when the Old Ballamaddrell was built. A noted local historian thought it most likely was built on an old Viking homestead. Invading Vikings would drag their vessels up-river to a green place (Grenaby means ‘green place’ in old Norse), where there was water, wood and a good vantage point. Customarily, they would up-end their longboat and shelter under it until a more permanent structure could be built at the site. Ancestors of the current owners, the Maddrells, have been at the site since at least 1511 and possibly as early as 1403. The old farmhouse – which the Grenaby Artists currently occupy – dates from the 1700s. It had been abandoned as the main residence in 1800 when the current, larger, Ballamaddrell House was built. By the 1990s it was in urgent need of repair and Simon and Kate Maddrell eventually decided to ask a young, conservation-minded local building firm, Grenaby Limeworks, to renovate the property in 2004. The Maddrells had heard that the Island lacked studio space, so they decided that creating several studios would be a perfect use of the ancient building. With its granite and other Manx stone construction it was ideal to fashion four substantial rooms. The old house sits in tranquillity with a truly inspirational landscape all around.

Since then, the studios have been supplemented with a kitchen – and a loo! –at the rear of the house. There is a further studio and a kiln room in the nearby Old Sheep-sheds. Two more workshops newly constructed in 2007 complete the picture.

The studios have hosted well-known artists including Juan Moore and Julie Ann Denton. The freedom this kind of facility can bring can allow an artist to expand and develop, without the limitations which working from home can involve. The current – and former – crops of artists all love to share and bounce ideas off each other and a couple of them have been here for several years. It is a real pleasure to see people come to work with dedication and positivity, and to watch enthusiasm and creativity evolve.

Professor Simon Maddrell

Artists in residence:

Graham Hall
Claire Pearse
Graham Rider
Juliet Petrarulo
Ruth Keggin
Caroline Cameron
Deborah Tatum