Q+A with Ciara Kilgallon

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Post Millish is a project which aims to bring positivity into everyday life through sharing postcards with loved ones and strangers. These postcards have been designed and donated for free by local artist and printing costs have been sponsored by companies such as The Copy Shop and the Manx Solidarity Fund. The project was dreamed up by Ciara Kilgallon and we chatted to her more about the project.

Q. What inspired the idea to create Post Millish?

I had recently begun a project, Manx Sewing for Safety, and was so fortunate to get the most fabulous team of volunteers. Hundreds of custom made scrubs were made and distributed to health care workers around the island, and thousands of laundry and shoe bags. With the project wrapping up, and feeling so grateful for all the support, I wanted to do something joyful for the community. I had been discussing with my nurse colleagues the impact of loneliness on health. I was seeing first hand the isolation, loneliness, worry, anxiety caused by Covid-19. And I just wanted to add a rainbow to everyone’s day. The Chief Minister was encouraging snail mail, and Post Millish came to me. 

Artwork by Cup of Layna

Q. You are running this project completely for free, giving up your own time to manage it and encouraging sponsors to fund it – tell us more about why you’ve chosen to operate in this way?

I feel like the past few months have given a lot of people a chance to stop, breathe and reassess life. People want to do something to help. Covid-19 or no Covid-19, this is a project where lots of people can give a little in, and we can give a lot back out. 

I’m really delighted so many artists came on board. My husband is a full time artist (composer and musician, David Kilgallon) and I appreciate how much time and energy Goes into the creative process. These artists have given their energy for free, and I’m so grateful. The least I can do is give my own energy for free too. I wish I could do what they do! 

Q. Many on the island may know you from your days co-running Sweet Ginger Emporium in Ramsey, an NHS keyworker featured in Beth Louella’s lockdown project and from the local creative scene in general. It’s safe to say you’re very passionate about the creative arts. Did you find that your experience within these communities helped you to bring the idea together?

I’m not sure. I feel so privileged to know a lot of incredible artists. Haven’t we got so many amazing artists on a tiny island?! So I am lucky to have a lot of cool people on speed dial! I’m super thankful that everyone jumped on board for this project, and for the Manx Sewing for Safety project. I had the most incredible team for that, I really didn’t need to do much at all, they had it all covered. I could do with them again for Post Millish! 

I have the ideas, I’m just not always that hot on the practical side. That’s why Sweet Ginger did so well, I had the wonderful Julie, with her incredible Manx-farming-upbringing work ethic, couldn’t have completed a single project without her! 

A portrait of Ciara Kilgallon by Beth Louella Art

Q. This project was born out of the pressures of lockdown in our daily lives and the realities of social distancing and self-isolation for many. The comfort that these postcards will have brought to people during this time is invaluable. What do you hope for the future of this project now that social distancing laws have been relaxed? 

It’s great that social distancing laws have relaxed here. We still have a lot of society who are shielding though. Our borders are still closed and many are missing family and friends outside the island. So the Covid-19 journey has a way to go. 

Although lockdown was a catalyst for the project, I don't see the end to lockdown meaning the end to Post Millish. Loneliness is an issue for many people. And a little extra joy and colour is always a good thing. 

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about the artists featured in this project so far and why you chose to work with them specifically?

I feel pretty lucky to know a bunch of great local artists. I approached them all! Some were too busy (which is awesome and exactly how artists should be!) and some were able to give me their creative energy. This project has led me to new local artists that I previously didn’t know about and a fair few artists approached me after hearing about the project, wanting to get involved. 

First onboard was Karolina from Cup of Layna. I’ve been working on a project with Karolina for some time. It’s super exciting and I have my fingers and toes crossed it’ll come to fruition soon. Karolina made three wonderful images. The Copy Shop kindly sponsored a run of 500 and they were gone in 24 hours! A total hit. 

Artwork by Jade Boylan

Since then, I’ve had artwork donated and printed from Juan Moore (I’m a huge fan - I did a little dance when he said yes!) and Jade Boylan. I’ve worked with jade before when we had Sweet Ginger, she’s got a great contemporary vibe and a thriving online store. Jade has done a design using Gaelg, which is so great. I’m passionate about our language, (though a bit rough at speaking it!). My husband and daughter are great Manx speakers though. Jade has also been very helpful on the tech side of things. When artists are asking me what format I need for files etc I have a bit of a blank face. Jade has patiently worked through a lot of this with me. I’m like a great-grandma trying to navigate a smart phone. 

Kate Summerville has gifted me some really beautiful pieces . I love her work, it merges under the sea with ethereal magic and repeating patterns. I’d love to see her design fabric ranges. 

Felicity Wood has produced three beautiful designs with Gaelg, a lot of these have gone to the Bunscoill Ghaelgagh. They’ve been really popular. She captured the idea of spreading joy, I find her work generally very joyful and she’s a great user of Manx language. I just bought her new tea towel - have you seen it?! It’s going on my wall! 

Kiara Mae is a young, fresh Manx artist and is doing great things with digital art, keep your eyes on her she will go far! 

Artwork by Frog & the Tadpoles

I also met Emily from Frog and the Tadpoles. Emily has moved to the north of the island recently from the other side of the world, and brought her beautiful illustration work with her! I can imagine the most delightful books featuring her work. I’m so glad she’s arrived on the island and honoured she contacted me to work on the project. 

Adam Berry has given me five stonkers which are being printed this week. I can’t wait to see them printed. I’m a big fan of his work. He worked with my husband previously on album artwork and I hear he’s top of the list for the new Meclir album (isn’t that a joyous thought, too?!)

Beth Louella has painted some gorgeous Manx cats using Gaelg. They’re incredibly pretty, and I’m really pleased she’s gifted even more of her time- she’s also painting wonderful portraits for a project called Portraits for NHS Heroes. 

I welcome more pieces from our islands artists. Top of my wishlist would be the incredible Eileen Schaer. I actually chickened out of asking her. I met her once. She’s such a legend, I was star struck and couldn’t say much! Oh, and Bruno Cavellec obviously... I think he paints the best skies I have ever known.  

Artwork by Adam Berry

Q. What sort of feedback have you received about the project so far?

Oh, brilliant! It has been everything I hoped for. People have felt joy and that’s what it’s all about. I’ve had lots of positive feedback. It’s great to know it’s having the right impact. 

Q. Do you have a criteria for anyone looking to get involved either as a sponsor or contributor?

I’m so lucky to have had sponsorship from individuals and from small businesses. Notably, Manx Solidarity Fund has pledged a significant amount which means I will be able to print all the artwork submitted so far. 

I would love to have more artists involved and obviously this will need further sponsorship. Sponsors are invited to add their details and a short message to the reverse. Anyone who would like to give a little energy, creativity or financial input to the project is welcome. Postcards have been distributed to schools, in foodbank parcels, left to find in some sheltered public areas and handed out wherever possible. If you’d like some, give post Millish a shout on social media. 

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@PostMillish On Instagram and Facebook

A sponsored body of
The Department of Education, Sport and Culture
Rheynn Ynsee, Spoyrt as Cultoor
Isle of Man Government
Reiltys Ellan Vannin
Isle of man Government