Celebrating life of Archibald Knox

Archibald Knox. Below, Liam O'Neill

Archibald Knox. Below, Liam O'Neill

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A celebration of the life of the Isle of Man’s most famous artist – Archibald Knox – will be held next week.

Knox was born on April 9, 1864 in Cronkbourne, Tromode, in Douglas and died in 1933. He is buried in Braddan Cemetery.

Liam O'Neill 'founder of the Archibald Knox Society

Liam O'Neill 'founder of the Archibald Knox Society

Archibald Knox 150th Anniversary Celebration will take place at St German’s Cathedral, Peel, on Wednesday next week at 7.30pm with musical performances from Manx groups, including traditional folk trio Barrule, harp ensemble Claasagh, mixed-voice choir Caarjyn Cooidjagh as well as The Cathedral Choir.

Liam O’Neill, chairman of The Archibald Knox Society, will speak on The Signifance of Archibald Knox.

‘Knox is the only Manx artist famous worldwide,’ said Mr O’Neill. ‘His metalwork designs are exhibited in museums and galleries in London, New York, Canberra and Tokyo to name just a few.

‘Today his jewellery and metalwork designs manufactured by Liberty & Co at the beginning of the 20th century fetch the highest prices at major auction houses, such as Christies, Sotheby’s and Bonhams. Even today he is regarded as a modern master designer a leading exponent of the Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau Style, which puts him on a par with Charles Rennie Mackintosh as one of the most famous British designers.’

Next week’s 150th anniversary celebration has been organised by The Archibald Knox Society in association with Culture Vannin and sponsored by the Isle of Man Arts Council.

Knox having been born here was educated at the Douglas School of Art and went on to teach art in London art schools from 1897. From that time he also worked as a freelance draughtsman for the Silver Studio who in turn sold his designs on to the internationally famous department store Liberty & Co of London and Paris. Knox quickly became its most prolific and popular master designer for its new Celtic range in metalwork and jewellery, namely the Cymric (Silver) and Tudric (Pewter).

At the height of his career for Liberty & Co he worked from his studio in Sulby, Isle of Man (1900-1904).

He returned to his teaching post in London from 1904 until 1912. Having spent a short sojourn in the USA, he returned to the Isle of Man in 1913 where he lived until his death in 1933. During this time he is best remembered for teaching art at the Douglas School of Art and in local schools such as Ramsey Grammar School. He also illustrated two manuscripts, the Deer’s Cry and the Book of Remembrance, which are regarded as national treasures.

He was an exceptionally talented watercolourist having exhibited at the Whitchapel Gallery London (1921, 1923,1925) and the National Gallery of Canada in 1926.

His gravestone in new Braddan graveyard is insccribed, ‘Archibald Knox, Humble Servant of God in the Ministry of the Beautiful’.

Tickets for the anniversary celebration, priced £5, are available at the following venues: Lexicon Bookshop in Douglas, Celtic Gold in Peel, St Paul’s Bookshop in Ramsey, Bridge Bookshop in Port Erin, and Gaslight in Castletown.

Tickets can also be bought online, where more details can also be found, from www.archibaldknoxsociety.com or the Facebook page www.facebook.com/ArchibaldKnoxSociety

Proceeds to The Archibald Knox Society, a charity that aims to promote the legacy of Archibald Knox both nationally and internationally.

• Douglas Council will unveil a plaque next Wednesday at 70 Athol Street where Knox lived and had a studio to commemorate the link between the location and Knox.

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