It’s been only five months since Leanne and Robin Higgins opened Pink Seaweed art gallery in Ramsey but they say the response they’ve received has been ‘nothing short of incredible’.

The gallery and art shop, in Parliament Street, is a vibrant and welcoming space for artists and art lovers, exactly how the couple intended it.

Leanne told Island Life: ‘The ethos of our gallery revolves around supporting the local creative community.

‘Everything on display is meticulously created, crafted, designed, or rescued/restored by local artists, artisans, and small businesses.

‘Our commitment lies in showcasing the diverse talents that our community has to offer.’

The collection on display is an ever-evolving array of paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewellery, textiles and more, all crafted by the island’s artists and artisans.

‘At our gallery, inclusivity is not just a principle; it’s inexcusably embedded in our approach.

‘We believe in breaking down barriers, irrespective of whether you’re a budding artist or an established one.

‘Artistic credentials are not a prerequisite - if you’ve created something beautiful, I’m eager to find space for your work.’

She added: ‘In the art world, there can sometimes be a perceived hierarchy. However, we believe in shattering those perceptions.

‘Our experience has shown that most artists simply want to create and be part of a supportive community.

‘Proof of this lies in the eclectic mix of talents showcased at our gallery.

‘It’s a testament to the idea that art should be a unifying force, bringing creators together rather than creating unnecessary divisions.’

It’s been a leap of faith for Leanne, who previously worked as a communications specialist and graphic designer for a global corporation.

‘After 20 years my employer made my job redundant while I was signed off, unwell and focussing on my mental health,’ she said.

‘Creating has always been my therapy and alongside my high pressured corporate job and raising four children I have always been an artist.

‘I ran a successful home-business selling art and sharing my story through my pseudonym, Jannoo.

‘My husband Robin and I had been talking for many years about creating some sort of creative space, and were considering opening a pop up studio. So when I got the call, it felt like fate.’

Leanne, a member of The Creative Network, added: ‘What fuelled my passion even more was the desire to create a diverse and inclusive space for fellow artists. Sharing the joy of exhibiting in a gallery and offering this opportunity to others became my primary motivation.

‘The chance to transition from a personal artistic journey to establishing a supportive haven for artists.’

The gallery gets its name from a childhood incident which has stuck in Leanne’s mind.

‘I vividly remember a supply teacher insisting seaweed could not be pink and my drawing was wrong,’ she said.

‘I was only five or six but growing up near Ramsey beach, I knew better.

‘I spoke back and got in big trouble.

‘After telling my mum many years later, it became a thing and we turned into avid pink seaweed hunters.

‘The best bit, customers and supporters send me photos of pink seaweed all the time.

‘Pink Seaweed embraces imagination in all its forms...and unconventional colours!’

The gallery first opened its doors to the public in September 2023.

‘The response has been nothing short of incredible,’ Leanne said.

‘The open exhibition we hosted drew in a flood of entries, showcasing the vibrant creativity within our small community.

‘The support from the artist community, local business owners in Ramsey, passersby, and the general public, has been overwhelming.’

She added: ‘As with anything new or different, we’ve had a few negative nellies.

‘I expected to encounter a few sceptics, but overall, the reception has been overwhelmingly positive.

‘The encouragement and enthusiasm from those who appreciate and support our vision have far outweighed any challenges.

‘I’m thrilled to be part of a community that values and celebrates local art and creativity.’

Artists and artisans whose work is currently featured at Pink Seaweed include Jade Boylan, Frauke Watson, Jimmy Thistle, Debra Tracey of Isle Be Creative, Rachel Roberts, Heather Maddrell, Ronnie Doyle, Peter Lloyd-Davies and Kate Summerville.

They are full of praise for what Pink Seaweed offers.

Debra said: ‘It is essential for creatives to have quality spaces for people to access their work and Leanne has created much more than that.

‘She has curated an eclectic treasure trove for locals and visitors alike. A real boost to the local economy.’

Jade, who is also vice-chair of Isle of Man Arts Council said: ‘Leanne has been incredibly supportive to local artists and makers, as well as creating a really fresh and unique gallery space for Ramsey.

‘I’m honoured to have my work in Pink Seaweed alongside pieces by so many of the island’s talented creatives.

And Frauke described the gallery as a space that ‘immediately lifts your spirits’.

‘Here, you are surrounded by light, colour and the creativity of so many souls,’ she said.

‘It really fills a need in this island community.’

Asked what plans they have for the gallery this year, Leanne said: ‘Our collection is ever evolving and quite honestly, I don’t know what exactly is next. I’ve met so many interesting and talented people who inspire me with ideas.

‘But there will definitely be some exciting collaborations, a spring botanical exhibition and if all goes to plan, I’d love to hold some classes/workshops.’

• Pink Seaweed is usually open Tuesday to Saturday. It’s open Wednesday to Saturday, 10am to 5.30pm, for the rest of this month and February.

It’s to allow Leanne time to get organised for the year ahead, update the online shop and spend some time on her own commissions.