STUFF presents recent Art Gene projects, reflecting on research around the social, natural & built environment, uncovering hidden and ‘Seldom Seen’ assets of the Morecambe Bay area.
Art Gene’s associate artists, architects and other specialists including ecologists, archaeologists, industry representatives, naturalists and historians have been working with local people to uncover hidden assets, achievements and to reveal the superlatives associated with of the Islands of Barrow for a number of years. This collaborative process is perhaps best evidenced in the diversity of assembled artifacts and stories encapsulated within the Seldom Seen collection of curiosities.
About Art Gene U-Hang Art Gene’s U-Hang Exhibition Programme is an opportunity for artists to experiment with new concepts, test theories or develop their practice in other new ways – giving a broad local audience the opportunity to experience visual art in surprising places.
‘Seldom Seen’ presents the hidden stories of Piel Island & the Islands of Barrow; their rich maritime, military, & industrial history, mythologies, traditions, rare habitats & wildlife.
Like Art Gene, UHC is interested in exploring the social, natural and built environment and in particular the social effects of regeneration in the North West. We have distinctly different approaches to this work however – where Art Gene has worked closely with local regeneration bodies, UHC tend to take a more ‘outsider’ approach, confronting the regeneration industry as a critical outsider/activist.
In Sense of Place, photographer and installation artist Sharon Haward researched the architecture and social history of both the former Technical College that houses Art Gene, and the John Winnerah’s Institute (Barrow Women’s Institute and Junior Instruction Centre) – a former school for the community’s poorest girls. Her work reflects the personal experiences a student might have had within such buildings’ walls, in direct contrast to the aspirational ideals such architecture aimed to instil.
In January 2016, Ally Wallace exhibited Travelogue, an exhibition expanding on drawings made during a walk around the Barrow town centre. Initially intending to work from the architecture of the exhibition space, he later said that he felt compelled to leave the building and wander in the town, stopping to sketch as he went. The resulting sketches became the source for a series of drawings and prints he developed in his studio, and which he constructed into an elegant installation for the Landing Gallery.
Adam Fowler – The Field Produced for exhibition at Art Gene, The Field is a month-by-month photographic diary of a particular field, which is exhibited in real time for the duration of one year. In this series, photographer Adam Fowler presents a rotating edition of striking black and white images that freeze static the ever changing… Read more »
December 2015, in Homunculus, Suzanne Smith peppered the Landing Gallery with clusters of cardboard rabbits sitting in uneasy social groups. Wide-eyed, cute and compelling, they draw the visitors’ attention to their gaze – however, they are clearly both discomforted by and wary of your attention.
In December 2015, after partaking in a yearlong programme of artist talks and workshops linked to the U-Hang programme, Furness College were invited to install a group exhibition.
Autumn 2015 saw U-Hang artist Tracey Eastham reference historic photos of the Art Gene building taken before it was rescued and renovated. In the installation, Memories of Places Never Visited, she retraced the long-forgotten patterns of peeling paint in gold leaf, putting the delicate shape back onto the building’s walls, or suspending them within bell jars.
In March 2015, Art Gene exhibited Sartorius Islands, an edition of 9 new artworks collectively referencing the film Solaris, made by conceptual installation artist Paul Vivian for the U-Hang programme. Paul’s exhibition, partly sponsored by the College of Creative Arts, was also the opportunity for a first of its kind collaboration between Art Gene and Barrow Dock Museum, where he inserted an artwork amidst their collection.
London-based painter Day Bowman exhibited Borders, Boundaries and Margins, a series of paintings celebrating beauty in industrial landscapes, both remembered from her childhood and referencing Barrow-in-Furness itself. During her exhibition she also gave an artist talk and ran a collage workshop for local college students.
In Patronage, installation artist Rebecca Key worked with building users and staff, inviting them to donate an everyday object for her to archive and display. Over the duration of the exhibition, fragmented information providing glimpses about the people of the building spread anonymously across the table.
Surface pattern designer and visual artist Bonnie Craig chose to use U-Hang as an artist residency. Throughout the month of September 2014, she met with the public, blogged, gave talks to local college students and produced a series of site- based installations. Plain Sight included a large shadow-like pattern describing the ironwork of our windows, and the addition of tiny sticker confetti shapes mixed with the occasional outline of dead flies – a combination that can be found in the corners of our building, spreading out from the almost daily weddings in the registrar’s office.
Craig Chamberlain – Tides Craig Chamberlain is an artist and designer heavily engaged with materiality and craft; making and doing. Simultaneously, his practice is intellectual, broaching academic questions about how we choose to orientate ourselves within the cosmos and in time.
My U Hang show in 2013 was a rewarding and stimulating experience for me. Using this beautiful building allowed me to work on a larger scale for the first time. I was able to let the space design some of my pieces, in a sense that they fitted into that environment in a specific way,… Read more »
Kate Davis – What’s it Like Round Here While studying for an MA in poetry I worked for three months making poetry with students at The Pupil Referral Unit in Barrow. Art Gene supported me to devise a display of the work as part of their U-Hang initiative. The poems were often astonishing and the… Read more »
Sayaka was the second artist from Japan to come to Art Gene. Our Research Residency Programme began a year earlier with Tamotsu Murakami. Both artists’ residencies were coordinated by Nori Mitzuki who traveled to Art Gene towards the end of Sayaka’s residency and was able to attend the opening of her exhibition ‘ALUKU’ in the Art Gene Gallery.
James Johnson-Perkins – Pixel Talk James Johnson-Perkins is a British artist who currently lives and works in Ningbo, China and London, UK. Johnson-Perkins has exhibited in leading venues in Europe, Asia and North America. His art practice draws from memory, nostalgia and play. In his work he uses childhood materials, nostalgic objects, new media, drawing… Read more »
The ‘new’ Art Gene Gallery is the culmination of over five years work to achieve a more functional and inspirational space through which we can share our research and engage our visitors.
The First, was a ground breaking leap of faith bringing contemporary art and a new contemporary art gallery to Barrow and its communities for the first time (see Art Gene Gallery page). It was the beginnings of testing Art Gene’s brokerage between the populations around Barrow-in-Furness and the role, or the then lack of a… Read more »
‘Shift’ an International touring exhibition of European Video Art, featuring new works by Sigrid Coggins (France), McCormack and Gent (UK), Alli Maria Savolainen (Finland) and Alexander Steig (Germany).
‘Shift’ was developed in partnership with Imagepassages: Annecy, France, FORO ARTISTICO: Hannover, Germany and Av-Arkki: Helsinki, Finland and toured to the four partner countries. Art Gene being the British partner venue.
A Belvedere is any structure built to take advantage of a view. There are many examples of this in Barrow but strangely the vast majority of the town tends to turn its back on the water and views of its islands
This exhibition highlighted the sometimes jarring juxtaposition of cultures, events and imagery in a world somehow now ‘out of place’.
‘When We Were Here’ is an exhibition of new and existing works by 6 (inter)national artists who were all artists in residence at Art Gene during 2005/6. Including Installation, Photography, Sculpture, and Video work ‘When We Were Here’ presents an insight into what can happen when artists spend time making work in a new environment.
We first met Tamotsu Murakami in ‘The Year of Japan’ (2001) whilst he was undertaking a twelve month research residency at Tate Modern, London. The Tokyo based sculptor, having seen our studios and gallery on a brief visit, agreed to returned to England to undertake a residency at Art Gene in 2002 and make a major new sculpture: ‘Airship in Barrow’, which was exhibited in the Art Gene Gallery alongside other specially imported works.
In 2004 we decided to try and make our own contribution to a widely identified need to showcase and raise the profile of artists across the North West of England and established the first NW Open Prize in 2005.
This exhibition celebrated artists who, in different ways, have decided to define their own path and create opportunities for themselves as well as for others; either other artists or wider and more diverse communities.
Your Future Needs You was at once an exhibition showcasing some of the artists, architects and others engaged in delivering live research at Art Gene and at a space set up to facilitate engagement events and consultation.
In 2004 Art Gene decided to try and make our own contribution to a widely indentified need to showcase and raise the profile of artists across the North West of England and established the first NW Open Prize in 2005. Building on the success of this first Open Prize exhibition we later extended the remit to include artists from the North East for the Art Gene Open Prize 2007.