Artreach Studios is celebrating the sea via creativity with The Big Blue Project, a UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man project. Co-owner Kate Jerry tells us more, and how to get involved:
In 2021, my friend and co-worker Colette Gambell and I started an exciting project that combined our love for visual art and our fascination with the sea.
We had recently moved our studio to a fabulous venue near Peel harbour, so it was only natural that we became interested in all things related to the sea.
One of my most vivid childhood memories was on a calm day in the Isle of Man. The sky and sea seemed to blend together, creating the most beautiful scene. I remember going on a family trip in my father's dinghy, rowing through Peel bay. There was no wind to sail.
The water was calm and clear, allowing us to see beneath the surface. In a magical moment, a huge basking shark swam gracefully beneath our boat. Instead of being scared, I was captivated by this gentle giant effortlessly navigating the water.
Even now, almost 50 years later, I can still remember this memory like a cherished video clip. It was an awe-inspiring experience that made me feel small and aware of the incredible beauty around me. This encounter sparked a deep appreciation for the natural world and became a standard by which I measure my own existence.
I discovered early that my happiest moments are spent in nature or creating art inspired by its wonders. Throughout my life, the most unforgettable moments have always been those where I encountered something truly remarkable in nature.
I have been fortunate enough to visit or live near several UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and I firmly believe that safeguarding these areas is crucial.
Throughout our artistic journey, Colette and I have found endless inspiration in expressing the power and beauty of nature, especially the vastness of the sea and its mysterious underwater world. This world simultaneously evokes fear and an irresistible magnetic pull. The fact we have created numerous workshops for adults and children on sea themes, beside our own work, is testament to it being one of our favourites.
The Big Blue Project was inspired by research based on the world’s underwater sea forests. Recognising this, and our admiration of the majesty of the sea, was the perfect foundation for a larger project, and we partnered with UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man, marine biologists, Culture Vannin, and other organisations to create something more comprehensive.
Our goal is to focus on, celebrate, and educate about the importance of our Marine Nature Reserves while establishing connections with similar reserves worldwide.
Through this endeavour, we aim to highlight the crucial role the sea plays in our ecosystems.
The Big Blue Project (Isle of Man) is a collaboration between UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man, partners, stakeholders, and the community. Its purpose is to raise awareness and engage the Manx community in understanding the significance of the underwater world for climate change, biodiversity, and our own well-being.
The project aligns with UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man's purposes of conversation and education and focuses on the holistic management of the Biosphere, with the key areas being economy, education, engagement, enjoyment, and environment.
The project showcases the sea as a common thread that connects us all.
Through art and science, we seek to communicate the wonders and importance of the sea, encouraging people to protect and enjoy it.
Through Artreach Studios, we plan to host creative art and craft workshops and a major exhibition by local artists, that explore the wonders of the sea and raise awareness about their importance.
The objectives of the project are multifaceted. We aim to strengthen the connection between all individuals within our Biosphere, uniting through the arts, science, culture, and storytelling.
The sea serves as the common thread that binds us together, influencing our food, travel, leisure, and sense of place. By recognising our interconnectedness within the Biosphere and our communities, we aim to raise awareness of the positive opportunities available, especially for young people, in utilising the sea sustainably.
We depend on the sea, and in turn, the sea depends on us.
We will also draw inspiration from the rich culture surrounding the sea as we explore our Manx heritage.
One of the project activities under way since September 2023, supported by the Isle of Man Arts Council, teen workshops through the UK National organisation 'Saturday Art Club,' has already made an impact.
Following on from those, we are thrilled to offer a series of engaging workshops designed for both children and adults, centred around the vast expanse of the sea. These workshops will run from February 2024 onwards and are supported by UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man.
In September, we will proudly present an exquisite art exhibition, titled 'The Big Blue', at our studios.
In case your interest lies in sponsoring part of the project, or taking part in any of its events, we encourage you to browse our website for additional details or to secure your place at one of the workshop events. We can be contacted via email@example.com