Artists love story inspires Millennium Oakwood sculpture design

Article | June 1, 2022

Zurich-sponsored dolphin is part of Hospice’s Big Splash fundraising campaign

Visitors to the Millennium Oakwood can find out about a love story which inspired the artist’s design of a Big Splash dolphin sculpture.

Called Skeeal Graih (Manx for ‘love story’) the design for the sculpture, which is sponsored by Zurich on the Isle of Man, was created by artist Leanne Mathews from the Jannoo creative partnership and was inspired by her emotional, personal journey. When she met partner Robin, Leanne hadn’t painted for a number of years and had lost her creative spark due to poor mental health and a lack of self-confidence. But, due to their shared love for art, Leanne’s spark soon returned. It began when the couple – who are getting married in August this year – decided to paint a mural in their children’s bedroom. They dreamed of giving their young ones all the stars in the sky, and that same theme fired Leanne’s imagination when creating the dolphin design. A wave painted to look like a galaxy of stars represents Leanne and Robin’s first artwork together, while the dolphin itself has a colourful floral pattern that reflects the couple’s creative lifestyle.

Leanne said: “It took four weeks to paint, I opted to paint at home in our conservatory. Our kids were so excited about having the dolphin in the house, especially when we had to take the doors off to get him in. They all had a little go at helping me paint the base layers, I can’t wait for them to see him out in the wild!”

All of the 30 sculptures in The Big Splash Wild in Art Trail, which are at popular spots around the Island, were revealed last week. At each location there are information boards with details about an app that can be used to follow the trail, plus a QR code to make it easy to give donations. Go to for full details about the campaign.

The Zurich-sponsored dolphin sculpture is near to the Millennium Oakwood’s main car park on Ballafletcher Farm Road, Tromode – but the company has another connection with the Big Splash campaign. Employee Natalie Norton – who works at Zurich House here on the Island – painted the ‘Manx Beauty’ dolphin which is now on display at The Bungalow. The idea behind the stunning artwork stems from Natalie’s artistic style of using bright, eye-catching images which reflect the Island’s natural beauty and historic landmarks. Her design includes lots of Manx wildlife as well as people swimming, walking and playing on the beach. Seagulls are featured in each scene in recognition of the Raad Ny Foillan (Way of the Gull).


Bruce Pearson, CEO of Zurich International Life Limited, said, “Zurich on the Isle of Man has a longstanding relationship with Hospice Isle of Man through our charity and community initiatives, so we are delighted to assist them further by supporting the Big Splash campaign. It’s a great idea for a great cause and one that’s aligned to many of our community activities which include supporting local charities, sustainability programmes, and wellbeing initiatives. Many congratulations to Hospice and the Big Splash team for such a fantastic idea – and to Leanne, Natalie and all of the other artists for creating such beautiful and thought-provoking works of art.”

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With the Zurich-sponsored Big Splash dolphin sculpture at the Millennium Oakwood are, left to right, Claire Powell (Zurich); artist Leanne Mathews; and Serena Wood (Zurich)