Top image: Art Gene Gallery after initial refurbishment: 2001: Inaugural Exhibition, The First Nicholson Bastik (detail).
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 role, for contemporary artists and the work they produce in beginning to find ways to develop vibrant self-reliant resilient and sustainable communities.
The artists worked with new mothers and babies in the maternity unit of Furness General Hospital seeing similarities in the creation of a new gallery. The installation played on the church-like qualities of ‘the gallery’; creating painted icons and the three illuminated-light-box stations-of-the-cross. A critique was established through word play.
It was a ‘church’ devoted to the contemplation and glorification of humanities various attempts to achieve immortality: Procreation, Art Making and Religious Belief.
“We were interested in drawing parallels between that which, in part, used to drive our early art-making – fame immortality and all that and the drive to procreate and ‘live on’ through ones children or by finding solace in a belief in heaven or an afterlife”
Elements of the installation were later re-worked in a commission for the Arts Council in Liverpool’s Blade Factory for the Art’05 Awards: Nicholson and Bastik are No. One, 2005.