Top image: Untitled Coin Operation, (Still from Video), by Birkbeck & Duffy, 2009

Birkbeck and Duffy

Birkbeck and Duffy


I (Stuart Bastik) took Eimer Birkbeck and Joe Duffy up on an opportunity to accompany them on one of their research trips out in the sea beyond Piel Harbour in rather choppy seas in August 2009. This took place shortly after we first met them after they applied to exhibit under our U -Hang @ Art Gene Exhibitions Programme.

The intension was to get near to one of the offshore wind farms, something they later achieved. The sea was just too choppy for the converted life boat we travelled in that day and I began to turn an attractive green colour – the favoured method of transport being the newer, more stable twin hulled craft which ferry workers out to the windfarms for maintenance and construction.

It was, none-the-less, fascinating to see Barrow from the sea for the first time. It gives one a very different understanding of the town and its geographical location. It remains difficult for locals and visitors to take a trip out around the Islands of Barrow as there are no regular organised pleasure trips available, though boats can be chartered for fishing trips if you know who to ask. One of the problems seems to be a lack of available jetties in Walney Channel.

Partly in an attempt to correct this lack of opportunity and as part of a wider Design Cafe series of talks walks and tours we were pleased that Jo and Eimer were able to organise a couple of boat trips for our communities to experience their town from a different perspective.


Birkbeck and Duffy (UK)

Based in Paris & Manchester respectively, Eimer Birkbeck & Joe Duffy have worked collaboratively as Birkbeck & Duffy since 2007, producing work that investigates narrativity through place, space, landscape, phenomena, sound and image.

Past outputs include their critically acclaimed international project Singing Sands, which was realized in collaboration with The Morphodynamic LabParis University 7, and hosted by the Manchester Festival of ScienceManchester Museum of Science & Industry. Please see link below

Joe Duffy works with video, installation and photographic practice around place, displacement and memory. Interests and subjects include the narrative potential of found objects, childrens toys, urban peripheries, simulacra and migration.

The central focus of Birkbeck’s work lies in the exploration of sound as the covert cultural and physical structure underlying all our day to day experiences. Alongside sound works for installation, CD publication and Radio, Birkbeck’s work can be heard on the YYZ Anthology Aural Cultures.


Image above: Offshore (film still) by Birkbeck & Duffy, 2010-11

Offshore 2010-2011

Our project began in 2010, when we first set out to explore the changing map of Barrow’s coastline, including the Offshore wind farm, and our maritime journey to document the transforming seascape.

However we soon realised the fabric of our project was the stories we heard as we encountered Barrows skippers and residents during our sea excursions.

On our first venture was towards the offshore wind farm site, through swirls and choppy sea, the wind farm quickly became a back drop as we moved towards recording the stories of people we met who turned our attention towards their perspective and relationship with Barrow.

OFFSHORE the film was presented to a local audience at Art Gene, the film represents our encounters which we carefully archived and drew together to create Barrow contemporary portraits, which spanned a century of maritime life such as the story we captured of George Harper, recorded in his boat shed.

Piel Island: Dave Romlinson (interviewed on Piel Island for OFFSHORE)
Sailing Club: Bob Faragher, member of the Barrow Submariners Association ( interviewed for OFFSHORE)
Sailing Club: George Harper (interviewed for OFFSHORE)


Design Cafe Boat Trips

We also organised boat trips to Piel Island for Barrow residents, to share our sea borne experience of the hidden Barrow coastline, and offer a change of perspective to residents who fancied a boat trip.


Untitled Coin Operation – U Hang 2009

Birkbeck & Duffy explore Sound and Image based exploration into narrative potentials and de-familiarisation of automated childrens rides, as often found within shopping and retail spaces. This first video piece reveals dark tensions beneath the surface of the characters ‘Noddy’ and ‘Tessie Bear’

Image below: Untitled Coin Operation, (Still from Video), by Birkbeck & Duffy, 2009 

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