taking our culture forward

Whispering in the trees: Images of Manx folklore by Mark Kinrade

Wed, 04 Mar 2020

Traditional Manx folklore is being shown in an art exhibition quite unlike anything seen before.

‘Whispering in the trees’ is the new exhibition of 40 original works by Mark Kinrade which capture the dark and mysterious spaces from which traditional Manx folklore springs.

Created in collaboration with Culture Vannin, each image is inspired by a particular traditional tale collected from its original source. As well as illustrating individual tales, the exhibition 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.

James Franklin of Culture Vannin says:

“We first came across Mark’s images online and we 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.”

After discovering Mark’s work online, Culture Vannin worked with him by providing extracts of folklore and advising on the series of images which Mark has been working on 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.

‘Whispering in the trees’ is a free exhibition at the Isle Contemporary art gallery in Tynwald Mills (opening times & further information).
[UPDATE: The exhibition was closed during the Corona Virus lockdown March-June, but it is now open again.]

The stories behind the images are also being released on the Culture Vannin website.