A six stamp collection celebrating the work of sculptor Rayner Hoff
To mark the centenary of the end of World War 1, Isle of Man Post Office presents a set of six stamps celebrating the work of Manx-born sculptor Rayner Hoff whose work adorns the ANZAC memorials in Sydney and Adelaide, Australia.
The story is told by Deborah Beck, author of Rayner Hoff: The Life of a Sculptor with a complementary essay by Manx Aviation and Military Museum director Ivor Ramsden detailing the lives of the Manx ANZAC soldiers featured on our stamps.
Sculptor Rayner Hoff spent the first eight years of his life on the Isle of Man before moving to England and serving in the British Army during the Great War. After migrating to Sydney in 1923, he became an acclaimed artist and teacher. His war memorial sculptures in Australia have come to represent the spirit of ANZAC in his adopted country.
Although the Hoff name is of Dutch origin, the first Hoff family members to move to the Isle of Man came from Lincolnshire in England. Joseph and George Hoff arrived in the 1880s to work on the new steam railway system, and by 1891, both brothers had married women from long-established Manx families. George's wife, Elizabeth Amy Coole, had grown up in
Cronkbourne Village, Tromode. After their marriage, George and Elizabeth Hoff lived in St Helena Cottage near Woolf's Brewery and Mineral Water Works, in Spring Valley, Braddan, where George was employed as a bricklayer.
Their second child, George Rayner Hoff, was born on 27th November 1894. He was named after his father, but was known by his middle name. As a child, Rayner was fascinated by the folklore on the Island - he and his brothers and sisters grew up hearing stories of fairies, goblins and giants. These tales stayed with him and were referenced in his many later depictions of mythological subjects.
In Douglas, George Hoff worked on public buildings, such as the Market Place and St Matthew's Church, and also taught woodcarving in Derby Square. The family were prospering until a banking crisis hit the Island. In 1902, the Hoff family moved to Lanercost in Cumbria, and then to Nottingham. Here Rayner began his training as a stonemason with his father, who was employed for the next 30 years as a mason at the magnificent Wollaton Hall. Rayner also enrolled at Nottingham School of Art, but his studies were interrupted by the Great War.
Rayner enlisted with his brother Tom in 1916 and at first his battalion was posted to a reserve position behind the front in Picardy. Fortunately his skills as a draughtsman were acknowledged and he was transferred to a topographical survey unit of the Royal Engineers in 1917, where he made maps from aerial photos for the remainder of the war. Having witnessed the terrible slaughter of trench warfare, years later he stated that he 'had seen too much of war to glorify it'.
After demobilisation in 1919, Rayner received an ex-service award that allowed him to attend London's Royal College of Art from 1920 until his graduation in 1922. He studied sculpture and modelling in the same class as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, and won the prestigious Rome Scholarship in 1922. During his time in Italy, he accepted an appointment as a teacher of drawing, modelling and sculpture in Sydney and he arrived in Australia with his wife and daughter in July 1923.
Soon after his arrival in Australia, Rayner Hoff produced works for several war memorials, including the Dubbo War Memorial, the National War Memorial in Adelaide and the Anzac War Memorial in Sydney's Hyde Park. His memorial sculpture avoided heroic images of war, and was frequently challenging and controversial. Hoff was commissioned to create the sculptures for the Adelaide War Memorial in South Australia in 1926. He produced two unique stylised winged marble spirits or angels, which hover imposingly above his figurative bronze sculpture Youth below. The Memorial was unveiled on Anzac Day 1931, before a crowd of almost 75,000.
A public meeting to appeal for funds for a war memorial for Sydney was held on 25th April 1916, the first anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli. Fundraising for the Memorial was slow. When Hoff arrived in 1923, the people of Sydney were still suffering from the devastating effects of the war. Many soldiers had returned mentally scarred or wounded, and in New South Wales 21,000 out of the 120,000 who had enlisted had died. A memorial as a place of remembrance, built to honour the lives that were lost, became a pressing need.
In 1929 a competition was finally announced for the design of the Anzac War Memorial in Hyde Park. The young architect C. Bruce Dellit submitted a successful design which was chosen from one hundred and seventeen entries. Dellit contacted Hoff in 1930 and they began their long and fruitful collaboration on the Memorial. They worked closely together on the design and placement of the 37 sculptures, and by May 1932 Hoff's maquettes were all approved by the Trustees of the Memorial.
Designed by Dellit in the shape of an Art Deco ziggurat, the Memorial stands at 30 metres high. The exterior sculptures include sixteen seated and four standing figures, four cast stone reliefs and two ten metre long bronze reliefs. Inside, relief sculptures line the walls, and the 'Well of Contemplation' holds the now iconic bronze sculpture Sacrifice.
All these monumental sculptures were made in Hoff's large studio at the National Art School where he taught in Darlinghurst, Sydney. He employed six of his students to work with him for three years on the sculptures, which werefirst hand drawn by Hoff before maquettes were made. They were then scaled up to full size in clay, and moulds were made in plaster. Some, like the exterior reliefs and Sacrifice, were sent to England for casting in bronze, while the rest were cast in synthetic stone (a mixture of ground granite and cement) in Sydney.
The work was completed for the official opening of the Anzac War Memorial by the Duke of Gloucester on the 24th November 1934. The Memorial stands as a respected place of remembrance and a testament to the rare talent and vision of Bruce Dellit and Rayner Hoff.
DEBORAH BECK National Art School, Sydney
DEBORAH BECK is an Australian historian, writer and artist who has exhibited her work widely. She is currently lecturer, archivist and collections manager at the National Art School, Sydney. She is the author of Hope in Hell and Set in Stone which won a NSW Premier's History Award in 2012. Her biography of Hoff Rayner Hoff: The Life of a Sculptor was published by NewSouth Books in 2017.
Work was not easy to find in the Isle of Man in the early years of the 20th century. Many young men left the Island for the developing countries of the British Empire and America. On the outbreak of war many of them joined the armies of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
John Joseph Corteen was a painter who emigrated to Australia from Castletown. Only a few days after signing up with the Australian Infantry he left for Egypt. His newly-formed unit trained constantly during the voyage, arriving on the Gallipoli peninsula on 4th September. They saw regular action for three months until December when they were evacuated and moved to the Western Front where they took part in many of the major battles from July 1916 to the war's end.
During his service he suffered from recurrent ear infections which were made worse by shells exploding close to him. This led to him spending time in hospital but he survived the war without further injury and in July 1919 he was discharged and returned to Castletown to live.
John Gell of Pembroke House on Castletown Promenade was in the 4th Australian Infantry. He was killed in the Suvla Bay landings at Gallipoli. His exact date of death is unknown but it was between 6th and 8th August 1915. He was 27.
Charles Stanley Nicholson emigrated to New Zealand from Douglas in 1907 and worked as a cheesemaker. He enlisted in the Machine Gun Section of the 1st New Zealand Rifle Brigade in May 1915. His unit shipped to the Middle East where he saw his first action against the Turkish Army. The brigade then moved to the Somme region of France where, on Friday 15th September 1916, his machine gun team was moving into action when a shell exploded amongst them. Two of the team were wounded and one was killed but Charles vanished without a trace. The army held an enquiry into his disappearance and it was concluded that the exploding shell must have completely destroyed his body. He was 29.
Good mates Thomas Sayle Corlett and Robert Joseph Caley emigrated to Western Australia from Ballaugh in 1913. Both took up farming before enlisting together in the 3rd Australian Pioneer Battalion in February 1916. They arrived in France in November 1916. Robert was wounded in June 1917 and again in September 1918 but he survived the war. Tom was killed by shellfireon 19th October 1917 in the Third Battle of Passchendaele. He was 29.
Lance Corporal George Roberts emigrated to Australia in 1912 from Port St Mary. He was a hairdresser before joining the 7th Battalion, Australian Army in November 1916 and was sent to France where he was badly wounded in September 1917. A fellow Manxman in his regiment wrote to George's parents, telling them that he "was wounded whilst going out
to find a close comrade, only to find his friend gone." He slowly recovered and was sent back to the battlefront where he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in July 1918. Only a month later, on 9th August 1918, he was killed aged 29. He left a wife and two children in Australia.
Samuel Robinson Rothwell was a telegraphist aged 43 when he enlisted in the 12th Australian Infantry in February 1915. His wife is recorded as living in Duke Street in Douglas. He was at the Dardanelles by May 1915 but had to be evacuated to Egypt suffering from dysentery in August. He was later discharged from the army due to deafness and he died in an accident in Australia in 1921. His wife never joined him in Australia; she was sent his war medals in 1925.
Many of the Manxmen who were wounded or suffered from disease at the Dardanelles were evacuated to the large military hospitals on the island of Malta. Many of them sent letters home and one of the first to write was Private John Moore, who emigrated from Foxdale to Australia and was in the Australian Army. He was wounded at the Dardanelles and wrote home from Malta but he didn't have much to say about the place other than "It is very hot here and you get bit to pieces by the mosquitoes."
IVOR RAMSDEN Manx Aviation and Military Museum
IVOR RAMSDEN Museum Director, is a retired civil servant who, in his own words "lives and breathes the Museum." He has always had an interest in aviation and military history and in archaeology and was part of a team of volunteers who, in 2000, opened the Manx Aviation and Military Museum.
ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. On 25th April 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. The Anzacs landed on Gallipoli and met fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. Their plan to knock Turkey out of the war failed, and the campaign resulted in the loss of 8,000 Australian soldiers.
Anzac Day on 25th April is now a national day of remembrance and commemoration, and is centred around the major war memorials across Australia and New Zealand. The golden stars that cover the ceiling of the Hall of Memory in the Anzac War Memorial symbolise the men and women from New South Wales who served during the Great War.
|Rayner Hoff text and Images||Deborah Beck|
|Manx Soldiers text and images||Ivor Ramsden|
|Colours||4 plus metallic and varnish|
|Paper||110 gms PVA gummed|
|Perforations||13 per 2cm|
|Stamp size||52 x 40mm|
|Format||Sheets of 10|
|Date of issue||4th August 2018|
Product Code: WM31
Product Issue Date: 4th August 2018
Isle of Man Post Office is pleased to present a set of six stamps celebrating the work of Rayner Hoff. This issue marks the centenary of the end of The Great War and features ANZAC war memorials in Sydney and Adelaide.
Product Code: WM41
Product Issue Date: 4th August 2018
Six mint condition stamps are elegantly presented in a highly illustrated eight-sided mini-folder which includes fascinating issue text written by Ivor Ramsden and Deborah Beck.
Product Code: WM91
Product Issue Date: 4th August 2018
This cover features all six stamps issued to celebrate the work of Rayner Hoff, cancelled with first day of issue.