Bill Turnbull celebrates the cultural heritage of the Isle of Man, meets a Manx teenager who is 'growing' her own clothes and introduces hymns from Peel Cathedral.
Browse content similar to Island of Culture. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
HE PLAYS TRADITIONAL MUSIC
I've stepped back in time - at least, that's what it feels like.
I'm in the remote village of Cregneash on the Isle of Man,
dedicated to preserving the traditional crafts
and skills that once characterised the Manx way of life.
Yet keen as people are to treasure their historic roots,
there are also vibrant modern day expressions of island culture.
And this year, across its length and breadth,
the Isle of Man is showing off its arts, music and literature
in a giant 2014 Island of Culture celebration.
This week, we meet a farmer who's passionate about Manx poetry.
A artist who expresses her faith through her paintings.
And a student who's helping to save the environment
by growing her own clothes.
This is Peel, on the west coast.
In Manx, Peel means "port of the islands"
and the traditional industries here were shipbuilding and fishing.
At one time, it was said you could cross Peel harbour
on the decks of the fishing boats waiting to set out to sea.
And it was here that the first Christian missionaries came
led, legend has it, by St Patrick.
Behind me is the small island named after him,
where Peel's first cathedral was built.
Its Victorian replacement is in the centre of town,
the Cathedral Isle of Man.
And that's where we that's where we begin, with our first hymn -
Come To Us Creative Spirit.
Now the beauty of the thing when childher plays is
The terrible wonderful length the days is.
Up you jumps, and out in the sun,
And you fancy the day will never be done...
John Kennaugh is a popular radio broadcaster on the Isle of Man with
a particular passion for the work of its national poet, TE Brown.
..or lookin' for eggs, Or peltin' the ducks...
'In fact, John lives in the house where
'Brown spent his childhood holidays in the early 1800s.'
So here we are, then,
a picture of TE Brown himself in the hallway that he trod as a child.
It is. That portrait once hung in every school in the Isle of Man and
when I look now, I can see the stairs that boy would have climbed
when he was eight, nine or ten,
and the feeling that it gives me is indescribable.
He managed to capture what
so many people have such great difficulty in describing.
There is this spirituality about the island,
this thing that we can't describe that Brown captured
and set down in his poetry and I think that's why I love it.
The island has a soul of its own, perhaps?
The island definitely has a soul.
And we're now into our year of culture -
that will mean different things to different people.
But to me, we are displaying now
to anybody who will look at us, or watch us, or hear us,
we are displaying our soul -
how we live, what's important to us, what we value.
We're seven generations here in this particular area.
We've become part of the landscape.
I could have chosen any career at school,
but the call of the land was so strong, and it still is.
It lends to a rounded life, a life with purpose and direction,
in partnership with the God who created it all.
So, you'd choose the same path again?
Without a shadow of doubt.
I could tell you of one particular day in the harvest,
which I look back now and I realise it was a defining moment in my life.
The day we were cutting corn in the mill field at Slieau Whallian
with a tractor and a binder, waiting for the dew to lift
and looking at the scene around us,
and this field of golden corn in front of us,
a stand of beech above that leading up to the farmyard,
the green fields of the farm where the stock were all grazing
and then the stone mountain wall along the mountain of Slieau Whallian
and above that, the purple heather
and the bluest September sky that you could imagine.
And I knew that day, "This is where I will spend my life."
And I thank God that I've been able to do that.
Art can take many forms.
We're about to meet Grace, who's a student here
at the Queen Elizabeth II School in Peel,
who, with some of her friends,
is taking fashion to a whole new ethical level.
In the school laboratories,
these enterprising teenagers have grown their own clothes.
I've made two waistcoats,
skirts, hats, aprons.
We've made quite a lot of different things with the material so far.
-Are those really all natural?
-Yeah, yeah, totally natural.
Where did you get the idea from?
There's a fashion designer called Suzanne Lee,
-and she originally came up with the idea.
Right, tell me how it works.
So, we have this bacteria and yeast mixture, which we call the mother.
-Bacteria and yeast. Can I touch it?
-Yes, you can.
-Bit slimy, isn't it?
-It's very slimy, yeah.
And we place it in baths like this, with a tea and sugar mixture
and with a bit of vinegar because that makes it acidic,
to prevent any other unwanted bacteria growing.
And over the space of maybe three or four weeks,
depending on how warm it is, it grows sheets like this.
And then these sheets here, you turn into clothing?
Yes. We take them out, dry them,
and they turn into a leather-type material,
which we then sew to make items of clothing.
-That's wonderful, isn't it?
-So, you're changing the world a bit, aren't you?
Trying to just get across that it's not right
to be exploiting people in sweatshops
and damaging the environment the way we're doing, just ignoring it.
You started this really for ethical reasons then, as much as scientific?
My faith plays a really big part in this project
because this planet has been wonderfully created.
People are just destroying it, not using the resources properly,
and that is damaging to the planet.
This is so efficient, this process of making clothing.
It uses very little water, whereas things like cotton T-shirts,
it takes maybe 260 gallons of water to just make one T-shirt,
where people don't have water.
People are struggling in droughts to drink
and all this water's going on clothing, which isn't necessary.
So as long as people don't mind clothes
that smell a little bit of honey and vinegar!
It does smell like honey, yeah.
Yeah, it does. We're trying to develop it.
It's in the very early stages at the moment. But, yeah.
-You've done brilliantly.
Born in Douglas, Christine Collister first came to public attention
as the singer of the theme song
for the BBC adaptation of The Life And Loves Of A She-devil.
# I've been thinking that love... #
Her love of music began in Sunday school
at the Salisbury Street Methodist Church,
which a few years ago closed its doors after 100 years of worship.
I used to live next door, right next door,
so this is almost like my second home when I was a child
and we all used to come here for Sunday school.
For me, the hymns of this particular church resonate with me even now.
And on a Monday night, they took the pews out and we had a judo club here.
I love that juxtaposition of you come here to sing praises on a Sunday
and you come to throw people around on the mat on a Monday night.
I think the older I get,
the more connected I feel to that which is other than myself.
And I think, again, music really helps to encapsulate that.
I don't think you know until time has passed
the kind of impact something has on you, but I know now.
I was very fortunate, very fortunate to be here,
to come here, to be with this small but beautiful community
that helped one another, singing together.
It's a wonderful thing. I wish we did it more, you know, nowadays.
# Amazing Grace
# How sweet the sound
# That saved a wretch like me
# I once was lost
# But now I'm found
# Was blind But now I see
# 'Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear
# And Grace my fear relieved
# How precious did that Grace appear
# The hour I first believed
# When we've been here 10,000 years
# Bright shining as the sun
# We've no less days to sing God's praise
# Than when we first begun
# Amazing Grace
# How sweet the sound
# That saved a wretch like me
# I once was lost
# But now I'm found
# Was blind But now I see
# Was blind But now I see. #
With its rolling hills and dramatic coastline,
the Isle of Man has inspired many artists.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth
of the world-famous Manx craftsman, Archibald Knox,
who made his name as a designer for Liberty.
And here in the cathedral, they have some silverware designed by Knox.
He had these pieces made as part of a scheme to restore
the old cathedral on St Patrick's Isle to its former glory.
It was a scheme that, sadly, never succeeded,
but these pieces are a worthy legacy
and they were the last that he designed.
Knox was influenced by the Celtic crosses
found all over the Isle of Man.
Painter Petrina Kent takes her artistic inspiration
from the island's ever-changing light.
There is a painting that started off my journey of light.
It was winter and all the trees were dead and black - no leaves, nothing.
And suddenly, light just broke through
and it broke through so strongly
that you couldn't see some of the branches.
And God gave me the word "comprehended",
which is an odd word to have in your mind.
So I looked it up, and it was a scripture that
"the light shines in the darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not."
A newer version would say
that the light cannot be overtaken by the darkness.
-Would you describe yourself, then, as a Christian artist?
I don't paint Christian paintings as such, though,
but God is a creator and he's made me to be a creative person,
so it's a thing that flows through me, because I am Christian,
so it's connected.
do you think you perhaps compromised with your art because of your faith?
You might have painted very differently if you hadn't had faith.
I know that I carried with me through life
my tutor's comments to me at art school,
and I was told by this tutor to go away and toughen up
and that I would never go anywhere with my art
if I didn't ditch my faith.
And in a sense, I believed him, I bought into that
and all through my life, until recently,
I thought I was a second-rate artist because of my faith.
And I've shaken it off now, because I think that that was a lie.
Because, why would I be second-rate just because I'm a Christian?
I mean, I just paint to the best of my ability.
I don't pretend to be anything else
than a woman who paints because she loves to paint.
TRADITIONAL MUSIC PLAYS
Manx dancing is a bit like a cross between Irish social dancing
and English country dancing. It has very ancient traditions.
It's not a museum piece. We don't just do old dances.
We preserve the old steps. We create new dances based on the old steps.
There are a couple of steps in Manx dancing which are unusual and unique,
but the main one is the Manx reel step.
The Manx reel step is a four-beat step
where you have three running steps
and one where you kick the front of the opposite ankle.
If you do it properly, you end up with bruises by the end of the night.
I'm not a great dancer. I would never make claims to be a great dancer.
That's not what it's about. It's just fun.
Whenever I'm dancing I always think of Psalm 150,
where it tells of praising God in the dance.
It doesn't really matter to me what that dance is.
We do a number of dances which have, say, pagan themes within,
but that's irrelevant to me because as far as I'm concerned,
I'm just praising God in whatever I'm dancing anyway.
It's a team thing. You have to work together.
You have to rely on one another and trust that
they're going to go the right way when you're doing the dance.
And that, too, reflects the way that the church should be -
that we trust one another, we work together.
Hunt The Wren is one of our more traditional dances.
In the olden days, if you were suspected of being a witch,
they'd take you up to the top of a hill in a barrel
and roll the barrel down the knobbliest part of Slieau Whallian.
One particularly vicious and nasty witch managed to escape her captors
by turning herself into a wren and each Laa'l Steaoin,
which is St Stephen's Day on the Isle of Man,
we have to go around dancing Hunt The Wren
to keep the spell from reversing.
And to my knowledge,
the wren has never turned itself back into a witch!
I like to think I dance with a smile on my face,
grateful for every moment I get on this earth that God grants me.
Dear countrymen, whate'er is left to us
Of ancient heritage -
Of manners, speech, of humour, polities,
The limited horizon of our stage
Old love, hopes and fears,
All this I fain would fix upon the page
So that the coming age,
Lost in the Empire's mass,
Yet haply longing for their fathers, here
May see, as in a glass
What they held dear -
May say, "'Twas thus and thus
"They lived", and, as the time-flood onward rolls,
Secure an anchor for their Celtic souls.
I immerse you.
HE SPEAKS MANX
Our final hymn is The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended,
traditionally sung, of course, at the end of evening worship.
The words were written by the Reverend John Ellerton,
who spent his schooldays here on the island
in the middle of the 19th century.
Those words remind us that even as the sun sets on worship here,
it's rising on congregations in other parts of the world.
Next week, in a special Songs Of Praise for Mothering Sunday,
Aled talks to the legendary singer Candi Staton
about the painful true story behind Young Hearts Run Free.
As we join her on tour,
Candi leads the congregation in some classic hymns
and performs a song she wrote especially for her mother.
Bill Turnbull celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Isle of Man, meets a Manx teenager who is saving the environment by 'growing' her own clothes and introduces hymns from Peel Cathedral and performances from singer-songwriter Christine Collister and Manx choir Caarjyn Cooidjagh.