Barrow goes to Penrith!


Above: Your smile needn’t be socially distant from me, 8 Words for Barrow-in-Furness installation, words by Laura Day. Photo Anna Litchfield



20 prize winners from Barrow go on exhibition in Penrith


Barrow’s lockdown artwork celebrated in an exhibition of Cumbrian creativity

This summer, 20 prize winning phrases written by the people of Barrow-in-Furness will go on display alongside Cumbrian artists in an exhibition at Rheged Gallery, Penrith. The exhibition champions Cumbrian creativity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It all started with Art Gene’s 8 Words for Barrow-in-Furness competition during the first national lockdown in 2020.

Inspired by 8 empty sky blue billboards in the town, the artist led charity invited Barrow and Furness locals to enter their own suggestions for phrases to fill the space. From over 180 entries, 20 competition winners were selected by Artist/Directors Stuart Bastik and Maddi Nicholson, and were presented in a socially distanced, outdoor artwork created by Maddi outside Art Gene HQ on Abbey Road in Barrow last year.

The winners included children, teenagers and adults, whose thoughtful phrases were hopeful, moving, challenging, and funny.


8 Words for Barrow-in-Furness installation outside Art Gene HQ, 2020, Photo Anna Litchfield


We were invited to include this artwork in a book ‘Through the Locking Glass’, by publishers Inspired by Lakeland. The book includes artists Cumbria wide, and records their experiences and creative response to the global pandemic. Now the installation of ‘8 Words for Barrow’ will tour to the Rheged Gallery in Penrith, to be seen by thousands of visitors from Cumbria and beyond.

The exhibition brings together more than 160 artworks created by artists featured in the book, including painting, sculpture, installation, photography and poetry, opening to the public on Saturday 26th June 2021.

Art Gene’s Maddi Nicholson said:

“We are delighted to be asked to exhibit the artwork installation ‘8 Words for Barrow’ in Penrith this summer. It’s a real honour to share the words of local Furness and Barrow residents with the wider county. I hope every one of the winners gets the chance to see their work at Rheged. Make sure you make a timed booking with the gallery.

It was an amazing competition and installation last year, and Art Gene would like to thank all those who got involved, shared their thoughts, and made the project a great success.”


Through the Locking Glass Exhibition

Rheged Gallery, Rheged Centre, Redhills, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 0DQ

Saturday 26th June – Sunday 5th

Timed slots available to book between 9am – 3pm daily

Book here



Join the conversation online using the hashtag #8WordsforBarrow


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