A three-metre long mosaic of a basking shark surrounded by plankton has been unveiled at Ronaldsway.

The airport artwork is called Interdependence and has been created over several months by artist Kimmy McHarrie to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Culture Vannin.

Kimmy said: ‘I have always wanted to give something back to the Isle of Man where I was born, brought up and taught by the great Norman Sayle.

‘I am so happy to have been given the opportunity to produce something on such a large scale to leave as a legacy and celebration of my homeland.’

Kimmy studied the art of mosaic in Ravenna, in Italy, the renowned centre for Byzantine mosaic.

Her works are made of Venetian glass, stone, shells, gold leaf smalti and semi-precious stones.

Kimmy started work on the basking shark in October last year and the piece is made up of six large panels.

It features Pooil Vaaish stone, hand glazed raku tiles which she made specifically for the project, scallop shells from Fenella beach, stones from Castletown beach, mussel shells, marbles, valves from speakers, and all sorts of bits as well as recycled toughened glass.

She told Island Life: ‘I’m very happy with the result and hope it will have a wow factor.’

An accompanying film has been produced which shows the making of the mosaic. It includes footage of basking sharks in Manx waters and interviews with fishermen and marine biologist Dr Fiona Gell.

Fiona said the piece captured the essence of the beauty and majesty of the endangered species, adding: ‘This magnificent mosaic along with the accompanying film will provide a fitting welcome for visitors and residents alike, reminding us all about the fabulous marine life that we have and the commitments we’ve made to ocean conservation and sustainable use, and to tackling the ecological and climate emergencies.’

Watch the video online at www.kimmymcharrie.co.uk

Kimmy, currently based in Whitstable in Kent, was born and brought up in Castletown. She still has the house on the promenade that the family moved into in 1964 and is currently renovating it.

She completed an art foundation course under Normal Sayle before studying illustration and design in Newcastle.

Kimmy then moved to London where she worked as a freelance designer and illustrator having numerous illustrations published as greetings cards and in books and magazines.

She later travelled to Italy for a milestone birthday to study the double reverse method of mosaic method.

Since her first exhibition in 2005, Kimmy has sold more than 450 works to collectors worldwide.

‘I was lucky enough to have been taught by the artist of Norman Sayle, who once remarked that one of his favourite things about watercolour painting was the happy accidents that can happen,’ she said.

‘It is the same for me with mosaic as sometimes when hammering a piece of glass or stone an amazing shape emerges and I will save it and sometimes even create a whole picture around it.’

Endangered species and conservation is a theme that Kimmy explored in her 2020 exhibition Shattered and is close to heart.

In the video accompanying Interdependence, Kimmy said: ‘Basking sharks are dependent on plankton for survival and we as an island and world are dependent on each other for survival.

‘We must do all we can to protect the environment and appreciate all the wonders that surround us.’