taking our culture forward

Unique year-long folklore project is completed

Thu, 18 Feb 2021

An innovative year-long project celebrating the Isle of Man’s traditional folklore has just been completed.

A collaboration between Culture Vannin and artist, Mark Kinrade, the ‘Whispering in the Trees’ project saw 40 beautiful original images released online bringing to life 40 of the Isle of Man’s most iconic, important or startling tales of fairies, bugganes, giants and more.

Created in collaboration with Culture Vannin, the charity which celebrates Manx culture and identity, each image is inspired by a particular traditional tale collected from its original source. Mark Kinrade’s images deliberately sought to capture the more dark and mysterious spaces from which traditional Manx folklore springs.

James Franklin of Culture Vannin says:

“We first came across Mark’s images online and saw immediately that they were something special. Beautiful and mesmerising, each one is strangely attractive and yet disturbing at the same time, creating the perfect space in which to approach Manx folklore.”

Culture Vannin worked with Mark by providing extracts of folklore and advising on the series of images on which he has been working since 2018.

Presented mainly in black, white and sepia tones, the images draw on a startling range of tales including some little-known ones of our Island; gruesome holy murders, the Evil Eye, ghosts of dead fishermen and beautiful islands sunken in the sea.

Well-known stories like the Moddey Dhoo of Peel Castle feature in the collection, but as a mesmerising dark triptych taking its title from a line of the tale; ‘Twisted with fear.’ The piece draws your eyes across its three contrasting images of Peel Castle, drawing you deeper into the image and the story behind it.

In contrast, ‘Stolen from the harvest field’ is one simple image. No less mesmerising, a single female figure stares out at the viewer from one corner of the canvas, drawing your attention away from the void of the harvest field beyond – but is she the culprit or the victim?

All of Mark’s images were created using modern photography and editing techniques, yet they remain true to the timeless place in which the folklore sits. They take the viewer on a journey into visual spaces where they meet new forms of troubling beauty. The series as a whole creates a unique sense of mystery and wonder ideally suited for the subject matter and guaranteed to make you look at the Island with fresh eye.

The series began at the start of March last year, when it was accompanied by an exhibition at the Isle Contemporary art gallery in Tynwald Mills unfortunately interrupted by Covid19. The images have been released almost weekly since then on social media and the Culture Vannin website.

Today this ‘Whispering in the Trees’ series forms a permanent collection of beautiful images and stories which were curated to give the best overview of Manx folklore.

James Franklin of Culture Vannin says:

“We are incredibly proud to have worked with one of the Island’s most distinctive and striking artists to create perhaps the most-accessible and important store the Isle of Man’s folklore. It offers us an insight into the lives and hearts of the Manx in the past… and the not-so-past!”

The final image is released today; the title image of the series, ‘Whispering in the Trees,’ about a woman who hears the Lil’ Fellas in the trees, so close that she can hear them whispering in her ears, and yet she cannot understand their language.

James Franklin says:

“The story is perfect, full of mysterious, wonder and so many questions – all of which is there in Mark’s beautiful image.”

The full series of stories and the images are all now available on the Culture Vannin website:

Whispering in the Trees