A HIDDEN treasure of the north is the Ballajora art gallery in Maughold, which also gives its name to a group of artists who will celebrate their first year with a debut exhibition this month.
Working out of the home of founder Daphne MacOwen, the 10 Ballajora Artists are part of a creative hub with a philosophy unique in the island.
The studio is an open door affair, where the public are welcomed to meet and socialise with the artists while they work.
It all started 12 years ago when Daphne opened one room in her Maughold home as an art gallery.
While plenty of artists where keen to drop off work to hang on the walls, visitors were few, and with the feeling that the space was being taken advantage of by artists just trying to sell their work, the decision was finally taken in November 2011 to turn the house into a creative base exclusively for the use of 10 northern artists and friends; Daphne, Carol Williamson, Frank Crompton, Carol Button, Delia Jackson, Carol Sales, Julie Radcliffe, Georgie Moore, Geraldine Coleman and William Lacey.
Now Daphne’s home is all but taken over by the concept. The gallery has spread into a second, adjoining room and the hallways, displaying the work of and information about each of the group.
There is also now a studio, which often overflows into a conservatory and which in turn, on pleasant days, overflows into the garden.
‘The whole beauty of it is we’re all different, specialising in things like stained glass, fabrics, and portraits. We all learn from each other, discuss things, and critique each other, said Carol Williamson.
‘Art can be quite a lonely thing if you’re not careful. But here it’s a lovely atmosphere, we trust each other, and it’s an escape from painting at home.’
‘It’s not a club, any expenses are divided up between us, there’s no chairman,’ added Frank Crompton. ‘It’s a group of like minded artists.’
Daphne explained: ‘The house is open to browse, all are welcome. Come and see us working. We don’t want pressure on people to buy anything though, otherwise they won’t come back!’ Their first exhibition is called The Child in You By The Big Kids of Ballajora, at Ramsey Town Hall on November 29, 30 and December 1, from 10am to 5pm. With a theme of youth and childhood it will feature more than 50 pieces, from paintings to cards, plates and cushions. ‘It has really got us going!’ said Daphne.