Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Archie Knox event to commemorate 150th Anniversary.

The legacy of Archibald Knox is to feature in the regeneration of the Isle of Man's capital, developers have said.  BBC
Douglas Development Partnership said several projects were "in the pipeline" to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Manx designer's birthday.
Knox, one of the foremost designers in the English Art Nouveau movement, lived in Douglas for much of his life.
Spokesman Chris Pyecroft said new paving featured the artist's work and a commemorative garden was planned.
He said: "The garden will be on the promenade, we are currently trying to pin point exactly where the original Douglas School of Art actually was. This is where Knox studied so we are planning to create the garden somewhere nearby - it would be the perfect site.
"We understand is was situated somewhere between Tower House and the Villa Marina.
"In addition, a blue plaque is to be placed at the site of Knox's family home at the end of Athol Street.
"We are hoping this will be in place by his birthday."
Liberty designer
Archibald Knox, the fifth child William and Anne, was born on 9 April 1864 in Cronkbourne Village, Tromode. He was educated at St Barnabas Elementary School and at Douglas Grammar School.
In 1899 he began designing for Liberty & Co and became known particularly for the new Celtic design work - much of which was inspired by ancient crosses on the Isle of Man.
"At the moment the new paving being laid in Regent Street also feature Knox's work," Mr Pyecroft said.
"The work being installed is an A to Y of Manx - it shows 24 letters, each focusing on something to do with the Isle of Man - obviously it's another perfect opportunity to reflect Knox's work."

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Manks Concert to Celebrate St Bridget's Day

With the Island of Culture 2014 celebrations well underway, the Manx branch of the Celtic Congress has organised a special concert to be held on St Bridget’s Day (1st February) at the Centenary Centre in Peel.

Advertised as an evening of Manks music, dance and dialect poetry, organisers have brought together a varied selection of entertainers from different parts of the Island, to bring a true Manx flavour to the evening.
Marlene Hendy

There will be some spirited performances from northern based Manx dance group Ny Fennee, up and coming musicians Tree Cassyn and established musical trio Scammylt, who represented the Isle of Man at last year’s Lorient Festival in Brittany in a bid the coveted Tropheé de Musique.

Two of our finest singers from the folk tradition, Emma Christian (Beneath the Twilight – CD) and Marlene Hendy (Mannin Folk), will be providing a range of material as solo artistes, before the evening turns its attention to dialect poetry with Philip and John Kennaugh, known to many on the Island as farmers, brothers and local personalities.
The Dumb Cake
But there’s also another opportunity to see The Dumb Cake, one of the celebrated Manx dialect plays performed by the Michael Players, which was recently featured as part of a sell-out Oie’ll Verree concert at Kirk Michael.
For those lucky ones on the Isle of Man tickets are available from Celtic Gold in Peel and Shakti Man in Ramsey priced at £7.50.

Valerie Caine
© January 2014 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Manx Northern Railway Stations

Many people were saddened by the demise of the majority of the Island’s steam railway network, save for the southern line, but the collaboration of Manx artist Michael Starkey and local man Julian Edwards has brought the northern railway stations vividly to life in this pint-sized publication.
It’s a lighthearted approach, with each turn of the page revealing a station or halt associate with the much lamented railway line between Ramsey and St John’s; giving the reader a nostalgic glimpse into the daily lives of the northern community and the line’s importance as a lynch-pin for goods docked in the northern town.

Each illustration captures the distinctive style of Michael Starkey’s work and is accompanied by nuggets of information about each stop along the way supplied by Julian Edwards.

The vibrancy of Michael Starkey’s artwork sits well with the idiosyncratic nature of the northern line, but for those who prefer a little more detail, there’s also a brief history of the Manx Northern Railway Company included from its inception in 1877.

Priced at £10 The Manx Northern Railway Stations is available from various outlets throughout the Island.

Valerie Caine

© January 2014

(Courtesy of Manx Life)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Barrule - Making Celtic Connections in Glasgow

Attending the world music trade fair WOMEX last October paid dividends for Manx traditional music trio Barrule when they secured a highly coveted gig at the annual Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, which specialises in folk, roots and world music.

Held over an eighteen day period at numerous venues in the Scottish city, this is a much sought after engagement and an important opportunity to raise awareness of Manx music globally with many other festival organisers, who use Celtic Connections as a template for booking artists for their own events.

The boys in Barrule had been hoping to secure an appearance at Celtic Connections for some time, but it was not until they were promoting Manx music and the Isle of Man amongst thousands of music industry professionals at WOMEX, with the support of the Manx Heritage Foundation, that a chance meeting with Donald Shaw (Artistic Director of Celtic Connections and founder of Celtic super group Capercaillie) secured an opening for the mighty Barrule.

Renowned for its strong spirit of collaboration and musical camaraderie, this is a rare opportunity for Manx music to shine at the festival, and only the second time that the Island has officially been represented at the popular venue, with King Chiaullee paving the way four years ago.

Bringing together over 2,000 musicians from around the globe, Barrule will be opening a spectacular evening of music featuring the supergroup Celtic Fiddle Festival and legendary Scottish musicians Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain in the evocative surroundings of the Old Fruit Market, a lovingly refurbished historical building which forms part of Glasgow’s centre for music, in the multi-cultural Merchant City area.

Valerie Caine
© January 2014

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Manx Song Chosen to Represent Isle of Man at Pan Celtic Festival

An appreciative audience gathered at the Masonic Hall in Peel to hear the entries for this year's Arrane son Mannin (Song for Mann) which included an evening of free entertainment of music and song provided by a cross section of the Island's traditional music performers.

They included Isla Callister, David Kilgallon, David and Jonee Fisher, Fiona McArdle, Marlene Hendy, members of Shenn Scoill and the northern based Manx gaelic choir Cliogaree Twoaie.

This annual event, which looks for the best new song in Manx Gaelic in both lyrics and tune from 2013, provides an entry for the popular Pan Celtic International Song Contest which features a number of genres, including Celtic, Rock, Folk, Traditional and Pop.

Winner - Shenn Scoill with judge David Kilgallon

Introduced by the Isle of Man's Pan Celtic representative, Fiona McArdle, there were four entries this year competing for a prize of £300 courtesy of Culture Vannin (formerly the Manx Heritage Foundation), and were judged by David Kilgallon, Clare Kilgallon and Catreeney Craine who have extensive experience in the fields of music, song and language.

After much deliberation local quartet Shenn Scoill secured the top position and will now go forward to the 43rd International Pan Celtic Festival at the end of April, which for the first time in its history will cross over the border to the city of Derry in Northern Ireland.
All competitors with judge David Kilgallon

An extensive programme of events has been planned for this year's festival, where Shenn Scoill will be joined by others from the Isle of Man to compete in annual competitions for choirs and traditional singers, and hopefully add to a number of victories clinched last year by the Manx contingent.

Valerie Caine
Copyright: January 2014 (inc photos)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Help Manx Trio Barrule in Their Quest to Win UK Music Awards

Following the UK launch of Barrule’s debut eponymous album during 2013, a review of the Manx trad power trio’s compelling music was published in the popular UK music magazine Songlines, which automatically put them in the running for some of the magazine’s prestigious music awards in 2014.

Barrule has been instrumental in creating a greater awareness of Manx traditional music in recent months, touring extensively across the UK and Europe, with another album in the pipeline.

Public voting for the 2014 awards has now commenced, but the mighty Barrule need your help in their bid for success in four categories; Best Artist, Best Group, Cross-Cultural Collaboration and Newcomer.

Bouzouki player Adam Rhodes explained, “Being a public vote we need as many people as possible to give a couple of minutes of their time to vote online. It would be fantastic if the public could get behind this and help to get a Manx group in the running for an award in this well recognised UK publication – especially for the Island of Culture year!”

Would-be voters are invited to visit the Songlines’ Music Awards page where they will be asked to select an artist from the ‘drop-down list’ in each category. Although you will be asked for an email address so that your vote can be verified, it’s also easy to unsubscribe should you not wish to receive further correspondence.

As an additional incentive each voter will be automatically entered into a prize draw to win one of three pairs of tickets to the fabulous WOMAD world music festival, which will be held in Charlton Park 24th – 27th July, 2014.

Voting closes at midnight on the 31st January, 2014.

Valerie Caine

© January 2014  

Friday, January 10, 2014

Year of Culture Receives Stamp of Approval from Isle of Man Post Office

As the year-long Island of Culture gets underway the Isle of Man Post Office has issued a new set of stamps by Manx artist Juan Moore to celebrate the occasion.

Juan commented, “It feels so good to have my artwork on the Island of Culture stamps. Art is always something that people have an opinion on and I hope my work will be noticed on these stamps. It is important to me that my work is not only thought-provoking, but that it is accessible to everyone. One of the aims of my work is for it to be as understood by not only those from an art background, but for someone who knows nothing about it.”

He holds degrees in illustration and computer animation, and has had work featured in exhibitions in Cornwall, Wales, London, France and New York, with examples of his artwork selected for the collections of both the Isle of Man Arts Council and Manx National Heritage.

Maxine Cannon, General Manager of Isle of Man Stamps and Coins said, “We are delighted to be involved in the Island of Culture and our set of eight stamps, kindly designed by Juan, will be launched in conjunction with the actual launch of the festival on 6th January. Culture means different things to everyone but there is set to be something to suit every taste throughout 2014, with a colourful spectrum of events planned by the Isle of Man Arts Council to celebrate the richness of our Island and its cultural scene.”

Juan’s distinctive style lends a contemporary feel to this commission which reflects eight central topics; dance, music, drama, literature, visual arts, design, film and craft.

He added, “I generally get my ideas for my art from everyday life and once I have an idea I just paint. I’m a big fan of the white page and don’t always know where my journey is going to take me and what the end result is going to be like until I get painting. I love having something physical at the end of it and I’m really looking forward to seeing the actual stamps when they are issued in the New Year.”

Valerie Caine

© January 2014

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Successful Oie’ll Verree Launches Island of Culture 2014

Phil Gawne on left and Past President of NAMA,
Laurence Skelly in the purple sweater!
Recognize anyone?

It was an evening of mixed emotions at the annual Oie’ll Verree held in the village of Michael, when it was revealed that two stalwarts of the celebrated Michael Players were hanging up their aprons for the final time and taking a well earned rest from the stage.

The distinctive Manx dialect play has been a feature of the Kirk Michael concert for generations, with the Michael Players believed to be the only Island drama group to keep the tradition in the public eye.

But the retirement of Win Callister and Ann Corlett has put the future of both the Michael Players and the unique Manx dialect play in doubt, although strenuous efforts are being made to encourage the recruitment of younger actors who can pick up the baton.

With every ticket sold and an extensive waiting list of hopeful visitors, this year’s Chairman, Laurence Skelly MHK, confidently took charge of the proceedings, contributing his own humour about fellow politicians throughout the evening.

The first half of the concert was given over to a selection of creative entertainment, with singing from Manx Gaelic choir Caarjyn Cooidjagh and music from Doona Lambden, Paul Rogers, Katie Lawrence, Isla Callister and Tom Callister. Northern based dance group Ny Fennee gave an energetic display of Manx dancing, followed by some gentle poetry reading by St John’s based farmer Philip Kennaugh. The first half concluded with an hilarious double act called The Deemsters, with their unusual and unashamed Mickey-take of Island events and happenings.

But before commencement of the second half, John Barron, on behalf of Kirk Michael Commissioners, presented the annual Yn Gliggyr Award to Dr Graham Naylor, a well respected parishioner, for his contribution to Manx language and culture. The annual award was first instigated by his wife Pam Naylor.

Then it was back to the entertainment with the second half of the evening dominated by the eagerly awaited Manx dialect play which drew the audience’s keen attention to the small stage of the Ebenezer Hall.

This year’s chosen drama was The Dumb Cake, a vignette by Lillian and Eva Kneen, and an old favourite of the Michael Players who occasionally supplied their own humour, much to the delight of the packed house.

For those unfamiliar with the dumb cake, it’s a speciality associated with Hop tu Naa whereby the female baker, who hopes to find the man of her dreams by divination, is compelled to make this unusual treat in silence.

The Michael Players will now embark on a mini tour of the Island with the play before locking their costumes in the wardrobe for another year.

The evening drew to a close with Arrane Oie Vie (the Goodnight Song) and a feast of home-made fare made by organisers and friends of Michael Heritage Trust.

Valerie Caine

© January 2014  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The M Room: Secret Listeners who Bugged the Nazis

This is the remarkable story of the German émigrés who fled Hitler’s regime and became secret listeners for British Intelligence during World War II, brought vividly to life with the assistance of a former internee on the Isle of Man: Fritz Lustig.

Working from Latimer House and Wilton Park Fritz Lustig and his colleagues (together with other secret listeners at Trent Park) bugged the conversations of over 10,000 prisoners of war, ranging from U-boat crews and Luftwaffe pilots to high-ranking German generals, in their fight to secure intelligence information to win the war.

These transcripts remained classified until 1999 but the tireless efforts of the book’s author, Helen Fry, now reveal how the work of Fritz Lustig and his colleagues was as important as those cracking the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire.

A revealing insight into the work of British Intelligence, the book reproduces a selection of the sometimes graphic conversations that took place, and tells how prisoners were tricked into revealing classified information.

But the book also makes extensive use of interviews and the unpublished memoir of Fritz Lustig and his wife Susan, who also worked for British Intelligence, which further details the flight of Fritz Lustig from Germany, his arrival in England as a penniless refugee and his subsequent incarceration at the Peveril Camp in Peel on the Isle of Man.

Both paperback and kindle versions available from Amazon.

Valerie Caine
© January 2014

(Courtesy of Manx Life)