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A Design for Lifesaving: Behind the RNLI Edition label with artist Julia Ashby Smyth

28 June 2023

A Design for Lifesaving: Behind the RNLI Edition label with artist Julia Ashby Smyth

Having recently launched Fynoderee Manx Dry Gin – RNLI Edition — the inaugural tipple in our Coastal Collection of Spirits, helping to support and raise funds for the RNLI in their 200th year — we’ve been inundated with wonderful comments on the flavour and the cause.

And, as with all our mythic Manx spirits, plenty of you have been dazzled by the vivid and vibrant new label artwork illustrated by extraordinary local artist, Julia Ashby Smyth.

 

Julia Ashby Smyth - Fynoderee artist

 

Julia’s art adorns all our bottles, from our seasonal and Elder Shee Manx Dry Gins to our Manx Bumbee Vodka and Glashtyn Spiced Manx Rum.

Her unique style, imagination, and profound knowledge of all things mythical and Manx have made her the perfect fit for bringing the feelings and fables of Fynoderee to life.

So, when we partnered with the RNLI to celebrate 200 years of lifesaving, we couldn’t wait to collaborate with Julia once again and bring the rich history of a beloved, Manx-born institution to our labels.

We caught up with Julia to discuss the origins and inspirations behind her detailed and delightful artwork:

 

Julia Ashby Smyth's pencil illustrations for the Fynoderee Manx Dry Gin – RNLI Edition label

 

The initial brainstorming session for the FYN/RNLI 200 label was all about connecting the core elements of our Fynoderee artwork and storytelling with the core elements of the RNLI, especially those unique to the Isle of Man.

Obviously, Sir William Hillary, Manx resident and founder of the RNLI had to be depicted. He was also instrumental in the building of the Tower of Refuge after being part of numerous rescue missions out in the bay.

Imagining what those rescues would have entailed and the equipment used 200 years ago prompted the idea of depicting a modern-day volunteer in the kit used today. This volunteer portrait was sourced from Ramsey Lifeboat station photos. His name is Edd Christian, and he is now with the Douglas Lifeboat.

 

RNLI Edition artwork by Julia Ashby Smyth

 

As the idea of a link-up was first brought to The Fynoderee Distillery by Ramsey RNLI, we had to have their shiny new Shannon class lifeboat centre stage, complete with its boat number.

Covering the points of the compass we have Ramsey for the North, Tower of Refuge for the East, Chicken Rock Lighthouse for the South and Dalby for the West, and a 'Seal' of Approval which you will find all around the island.

The Dalby, Lag ny Keeiley, reference is from Mank folklore and ties in with a 'rescue at sea' tale. The story of the 'Lost Child' or 'Child with no name' can be found in Sophia Morrison's Manx Fairy Tales.

This little sunset scene tells a little side story of how the Fynoderre and Teeval (Princess of the Sea - Ben-Phrinse Ny Marrey) may have tried to help and look after the little lost child in the times before Dalby fisherman, Illiam Quirk, saved the day.

 

Fynoderee Manx Dry Gin – RNLI Edition label artwork pencil sketching

 

The dot under the O of the word FYNODEREE always has a nod to the subject/story depicted on the label. This one is a dinky little lifebelt.

The band around the neck of the bottle is inspired by the hull of the Ramsey lifeboat and the colours used by RNLI.

Because the RNLI often work with the Coastguard and helicopters, especially in Air-Sea rescue and the airlifting of patients, I thought it apt to depict one of the helicopters in use around the IOM.

 

 

Click here to buy your bottle of Fynoderee Manx Dry Gin – RNLI Edition
9% of the cost from every bottle goes towards supporting the amazing work of the RNLI
Click here to read more about our involvement with the RNLI 200th anniversary
Seal in water - by Julia Ashby Smyth




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