Archibald Knox is the Isle of Man’s greatest known artist. Ahead of a major year-long event celebrating him, which is expected to draw thousands of visitors, a new trail of his work has been created. Chris Hobdell of the Archibald Knox Forum explains.
The Archibald Knox Forum (AKF) is a Manx registered educational charity incorporated in 2017 to educate the public, both in the Isle of Man and world-wide, in relation to the work and legacy of Archibald Knox.
Our achievements include:
· Visits to places of Knox interest
· Three-month exhibition attracting 6,000 people
· Talks, films and small exhibitions re Knox, his work, life and legacy
· Website with 17,300 visitors worldwide
· Facebook page with 3,150 followers.
Knox was born on the Island, at Cronkbourne village, in 1864, and was buried in Braddan new cemetery, about 700 metres away, 68 years later. A short journey but what a fantastic legacy has been left behind.
Knox became an inspirational art and design teacher as well as an artist, the top decorative arts designer for Liberty & Co. in London, and a person whose work is now seen in museums and private collections all over the world.
To generalise, Knox was known as mainly a teacher and artist to his fellow Manxmen. However, the rest of the world mainly know of his metalwork and jewellery designs for Liberty which represented just eight or nine years of his life.
We have developed a Knox Trail which allows the Manx people and visitors to see many of his outdoor works such as war memorials and gravestones at 27 sites Island-wide.
Knox's work on the grave of famous Manx novelist Hall Caine
The trail uses QR codes in order to get a younger generation interested in Knox and his work. It is also the easiest way to link each place to all the information and images on the AKF website.
On the website home page there's a section on the trail with maps and QR codes so that those not living on the Isle of Man can carry out a virtual tour of the Knox places of interest.
More than 1,500 QR code leaflets have been distributed to visitor centres, hotels and other establishments throughout the Island.
Manx people and visitors will see for themselves what about this wonderful Island’s history, culture and scenery motivated and inspired Knox.
Many of his designs are drawn from Celtic entrelac patterns but interpreted in a new Art Nouveau/'Knoxian' way. His capture of the scenic colours and skies of the Isle of Man are unique.
His teaching was the drawing out from his students the God-given talent they possessed rather than the repetitive drawing of the same scene or object until they 'got it right'.
The trail is also one of the important stepping stones for the biggest Knox event in the world, to be held on the Island from April 2025 to April 2026.
A series of walks is also being developed so people can see the places he sketched and painted and be inspired as he was.
Conservatively, 5,000 non-Manx visitors are expected to visit the Island and, in time, the vision is that Knox will be to the Isle of Man what Charles Rennie Mackintosh is to Glasgow.