Above:  8 Words for Barrow-in-Furness, installation outside the Nan Tait centre, photo Anna Litchfield


8 Words for Barrow-in-Furness Exhibition

October 2020

Art Gene

Corner of Bath Street and Abbey Road, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, LA14 5TY

During lockdown, we asked for your 8 Words for Barrow-in-Furness. We were blown away by the response, with over 180 entries to the competition. Now we present 20 of our favourites in a socially distanced outdoor exhibition, outside the Art Gene building on the corner of Bath Street, Barrow-in-Furness.

In May of this year, we invited Barrow and Furness locals into a virtual conversation about their place. The 8 Words for Barrow-in-Furness Competition was inspired by 8 empty billboards at Hollywood Park roundabout in Barrow which appeared during the national lockdown. All advertisements ceased and the billboards were papered with an aspirational sky blue colour. In the absence of advertising, we invited locals to add their own words and thoughts to them, with the aim of activating and capturing the voices of local people during this ‘unprecedented’ time. 

Above: 8 Billboards in Barrow-in-Furness, the image that inspired the competition.
Photo Charlie MacKeith, 202

What would you say about Barrow… in just 8 words?

The online competition received an incredible response, with over 180 entries from people of all ages, ranging from the light-hearted and humorous to sincere calls for change in this time of crisis. Selected by Art Gene’s Artist/Directors Maddi Nicholson and Stuart Bastik, a total of 20 entries will be on display as part of an art installation outside Art Gene’s building this Autumn, which will be viewed from the street.


Competition Winners

Selected from over 180 entries, 13 prize-winners in 4 categories will receive a framed print of their ‘8 Words’ on the billboards, announced at an Online Prize Giving event, presented by Helen Wall, Deputy Mayor for Barrow-in-Furness, and published Walney poet Kate Davis, who has recently appeared on BBC Radio 4 on Thursday 22nd October 5:30 – 6:30pm via Zoom. Re-watch the event below:


Above: 8 Words for Barrow-in-Furness Online Prize Giving Event, presented by Helen Wall, Deputy Mayor for
Barrrow-in-Furness, and published Walney Poet Kate Davis, recorded on Zoom




Above: 8 Words for Barrow-in-Furness, installation outside the Nan Tait centre, photo Anna Litchfield


Peoples Choice award

We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part. All entries to the competition will also be shown as a digital artwork, via our website and social media to celebrate all the entries and the diverse voices of Barrow and Furness. You will be able to vote for your favourite in the People’s Choice award, so please go to our Facebook page to see your 8 Words – share with your friends and family and you might be a winner!

Help us to spread the word using #8WordsforBarrow on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.




Art Gene’s Maddi Nicholson said:

“We were delighted with the sheer number and variety of the entries, and it was not an easy task to select only 20 for the installation. These 20 include entries from people of all walks of life, adults, children artists and writers whose words inspired us, made us laugh and most importantly make us think.

We hope people will come to see the exhibition from the street whilst staying safe and observing social distancing.”


The competition is part of Art Gene’s Extreme Views programme, in partnership with the Islands and Bays of Barrow and Furness Coastal Team, which brings communities and specialists into a conversation about this place through research, engagement and participatory outdoor events. 


Below:  8 Words for Barrow-in-Furness, installation outside the Nan Tait centre, photo Anna Litchfield

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