Above: Barrow Park Bandstand, image courtesy of Barrow Archive and Local Studies Centre

Extreme Views – Armchair Walks series

Season 1 – Barrow Park to Lesh Lane


Civic space, health & wellbeing, green pockets, biodiversity, usership, geological history, carbon capture, climate crisis, species, desire lines, utopias.


You are invited to join architects, artists, naturalists, and landscape designers on a tour through Barrow-in-Furness, from the comfort of your own home.

Extreme Views Artist in Residence, Owen Griffiths, will host three Extreme Views Armchair Walks. In development since before lockdown, this postponed event is now taking place online in three distinct chapters.

The route will take a tour from the manicured landscape of Barrow Park, through a Green Corridor on the site of the Old Grammar School, leading to an unused suburban green space at Lesh Lane. Each event will be a Zoom online video dialogue, featuring film and images of the route with narration by expert speakers, followed by time for questions or discussion towards the end.

All events free
Sign up essential
You will need a computer, tablet or smart phone, internet connection, and access to Zoom. Find more info about using and downloading Zoom here.



Chapter 1 – Barrow Park

Wednesday 29 July 5:30 – 6:30pm

The first site will focus on civic space, looking at the history and significance of parks, urban landscapes and utopias- as well as the role of civic spaces in the time of COVID-19 and climate crisis. Are these civic spaces a kind of neo-commons, a crucial space to deal with issues of wellbeing and health as well as green pockets which help capture carbon?

With speakers:

Charlie MacKeith – Architect

Pete Burton – Naturalist

Daisy Froud – Lecturer & Strategist


Chapter 2 – Green Corridor on the site of the Old Grammar School, leading to Lesh Lane

Wednesday 5 August 5:30 – 6:30pm

We’ll be looking at the possibilities of the site from a biodiversity and usership perspective, looking at what grows there now – its geological history as once part of the outwash channel.  This site is mixed use but is largely a blank canvas, in need of protection as a significant green corridor and public space.
With speakers:

Melissa Appleton – Artist & Producer

Pete Burton – Naturalist

Vincent Walsh – Ecological Designer & Sustainable Food Specialist


Chapter 3 – Lesh Lane

Wednesday 12 August 5:30 – 6:30pm

The final site is a suburban green space in the midst of a post war housing landscape. The site could be identified as ‘SLOP’ (Space Left Over After Planning), and was earmarked for future development. The site is largely unused by the homes surrounding it, without desire lines or activities taking place. However this site contains a natural wetland which could support a range species and flora and fauna due to the clay content in the soil.
With speakers:

John Little – Landscape Designer

Pete Burton – Naturalist

Andre Reid – Community-led Designer

Stuart Bastik – Artist/Director Art Gene

Maddi Nicholson – Artist/Director Art Gene



Above: Pete Burton identifying species in the Green Corridor, photo Anna Litchfield



       Owen Griffiths – Artist

Owen Griffiths is an artist, workshop leader and facilitator based in Wales, and is currently Artist in Residence with Art Gene’s Extreme Views programme.

His practice and research is connected to land use, urbanism, regeneration and community food systems, creating work which seeks to challenge normative practices which can alienate, marginalise and disengage communities, giving voice to and empowering communities to articulate change. He believes community land projects and alternative models of ownership or land use are vital tools and spaces through which to re-imagine the future of our environment and our connection to them.

In 2014 Owen was a British Council Fellow working with artists and community growing networks in California, and in 2016 was awarded Creative Wales  Ambassador role by Arts Council of Wales researching land use, community and participation through food, placemaking and regeneration. He has developed projects with Cultural Olympiad Wales, 1418Now, National Museum Wales, Social Services, Natural Resources Wales, Housing Associations HM Prisons Services, as well as Galleries and cultural organisations and local authorities. He is a graduate of the School of Walls and Space a radical pedagogic space at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen  and is a member of Social Sculpture Research Unit at Oxford Brookes University. Griffiths was 2017-19 artist in residence at St Fagans National Museum of Wales. He leads two long-term community projects GRAFT a soil based syllabus and The Trebanog Project. (Image courtesy of the Owen Griffiths)


       Daisy Froud – Lecturer & Strategist

Daisy Froud is a lecturer and strategist who designs tools and processes to enable better communication and co-production between architects and non-professionals.

Having started her career in community-led regeneration and environmental campaigning, from 2003 to 2014 Daisy was a founding director of architecture practice AOC, which built a reputation for “a committed engagement with communities, clients and parts of the city” (FT, 2008) and where in 2014 she was shortlisted for The Architect’s Journal’s Emerging Woman Architect of the Year Award. Daisy is a Teaching Fellow at The Bartlett School of Architecture, where she lectures on the history and theory of spatial politics. She is also a Mayoral Design Advocate, advising on community engagement, to the Mayor of London. (Image courtesy of the Daisy Froud)


       Pete Burton – Naturalist

Pete Burton is a Naturalist and Educator, with a diverse background working in Vickers Shipyard, Sandscale Haws National Nature Reserve, Natural History Museum, Environmental Education, Sellafield and most recently as Student Support at Beaumont College.

Based in the Barrow Borough, Pete is passionate about our natural environment, the contrasts of industrial, built environment and open, natural space of international import, and the environmental potential of the landscape on our doorstep. As an environmental educator, Pete’s in-depth knowledge of species and ecology gives an insight into the diversity that surrounds us, as well as what might be missing from these environments. He believes in the value of Barrow’s environment and natural heritage, for wellbeing as well to preserve and enrich the area’s unique and rich natural heritage, and to promote the value of this area to a wider audience. (Image by Anna Litchfield)


       John Little – Landscape Designer

John Little has always loved plants and what they can do for people and urban space. In 1995 he built his own green roof home, and founded the Grass Roof Company in 1998.  John has always argued the importance of linking grounds maintenance to the residents that use the space. He campaigns to lift the profile and the importance that imaginative maintenance plays in helping to improve life and biodiversity within social housing estates. His company has looked after Clapton Park Estate Hackney, East London for 18 years, and has produced a new sustainable grounds maintenance template for the estate, that puts people first. The estate is now known as ‘the poppy estate’ on the back of the greenspace work.

John is currently researching the potential of dictating low fertility substrates in new landscapes to provide habitat for invertebrates and diverse plant communities. He suggests rethinking our obsession with specifying topsoil in all new projects and is campaigning for diverse ecological design into new highway embankments. In particular the A13 widening scheme close to his home. His A13 garden at his home is made from 3 different sands taken directly from the work there.  He has also launched a range of small green roof shelters based on second-hand shipping containers and designed portable structures. (Image courtesy of John Little)


       Melissa Appleton – Artist

Melissa Appleton is an artist, producer and creative director. With a background in architecture, Melissa’s work responds to place – combining environments, live events, sound and other elements into an expanded form of sculpture. Recent projects include Tonight the World (2019), a collaboration with Daria Martin for Barbican Curve, London & CJM, San Francisco and Quite Suddenly Your Smile is an Architecture (2016/17), an itinerant exhibition of the publishing projects of poet and artist Jeff Nuttall. Between 2008–2012 Melissa co-directed Post Works with Matthew Butcher, a London-based studio that made performance environments in collaboration with dancers, artists and filmmakers.

Working in South Wales since 2015, Melissa’s work has focused on developing cultural programmes with community, land and environmental partners – whether at the scale of a landscape, a canal network or an abandoned garden. Melissa has worked as a creative producer on projects such as Hinterlands Wales, an arts and ecology programme for the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal and Skyline, a feasibility study for the large-scale transfer of land to community groups in the South Wales Valleys. Melissa was a visiting lecturer at the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford University, 2011–2019 and has also taught art and architecture at Royal College of Art, London, The Bartlett, UCL and Nottingham University. Melissa is currently Interim Creative Director at Peak, an arts organisation in the Black Mountains, Wales, working with artists, young people and rural communities. (Image: Writtle Calling/2EmmaToc, 2012 (with Matthew Butcher) Photo: Tim Brotherton)


       Dr Vincent Walsh – Ecological Designer & Sustainable Food Specialist

Vincent Walsh is a scientist and practitioner, with an academic background stretching across design, agricultural technologies and ecological life support systems, and is currently working with Art Gene as Ecological Designer to the Allotment Soup project.

His research focuses on resilient methodologies to create integrated alternative food production and urban distribution systems, with an interest in new techniques for interconnectivity and decentralised urbanism. Key to his methodology is a design driven transdisciplinary-whole system approach, focused on the emergence of new biological infrastructure, innovation and cultures, which potentially have the capability of becoming increasingly resilient through climatic, economic and social disturbance. Vincent has worked on an array of community projects, with particular focus on vermiculture, mycoremediation, agroforestry, mushroom/fungi system and integrated aquaponics, hydroponics, aeroponics and circular economy food systems. Vincent sits on the editorial board for the New food Magazine and is an active contributor to the magazine on areas of food tech, ecological system design and food futures. (Image courtesy of Vincent Walsh)


       Charlie MacKeith – Architect

Charlie MacKeith is an architect and the director of Research Design [architecture]. He divides his time between working from studios in Lee, southeast London and his studio within Art Gene. Charlie is also Co-Director of the Islands and Bays of Barrow & Furness Coastal Team, an association of stakeholders of the Cumbrian coastline – community representatives, local businesses & industry, environmental & ecological statutory bodies and charities, and Co-Director of Sandy Gap CIC, a new community visitor centre on the Isle of Walney.

An architect who has been drawn to community projects and the stories behind them that may secure funding. He is a trustee of Fleetwood Museum and is currently digitally recording ‘Jacinta’, a preserved stern trawler to be dismantled. Charlie has published on community housing and governance models. In 2020 he will publish a study of the cultural and economic impact of human interventions on the Lancashire coast. (Image courtesy of Charlie MacKeith)


       Stuart Bastik – Artist/ Director Art Gene

Stuart Bastik is an artist, thinker & occasional poet. Sometimes described as a radical, he is certainly a passionate generalist who advocates knowing a little about a lot. He sees knowledge of the complex connections between things through time played out in our landscapes as a driving force for sustainable change.

A sculptor by training Stuart has produced artworks for exhibition including photographic works, sculpture, installation and video, and also works on the edges of design and architecture. Stuart has also been working collaboratively with Maddi Nicholson since 1996 as Nicholson Bastik. In 2002 he founded Art Gene with fellow artist Maddi Nicholson (Co-Founder Director) which extends their collaboration into work with other (inter)national artists, architects and other specialists.

His early works included site specific commissioned sculpture which led him to question and test the role of artists in the social, natural and built environment. He has a tendency to see ‘art’ as the thing artists do whilst they are waiting for something to happen – perhaps born out of a frustration – or waiting to be included in the debate. (Image: If Invention did not exist God would be Necessary, Stuart Bastik)


       Maddi Nicholson – Artist/ Director Art Gene

Maddi Nicholson is Co-Artist Founder Director of Art Gene alongside Stuart Bastik. Maddi has a diverse practice, working primarily with people and place. Her interest is in communities – communities of people, of objects, of interest, of life – and the choices and allegiances that one makes.

Artworks include inflated structures, plastic installations, and works in photography, painting and video. Past commissions range from a 6 meter high pink inflated bathtub balanced on the balcony of Bishop Auckland Town Hall, Shall I Draw You a Bath Dear, to 1000 inflated dog bones wallpapering gallery walls in the installation Bone Idle. Her large scale works have clad castles, London tower blocks, town halls, art galleries and vehicles ranging from a Norwegian passenger ferry to double decker buses and trucks. A self-proclaimed ‘Artist in Residence,’ in Barrow since 1990, she came to the area for a year residency, was intrigued and stayed.

Maddi is Co-Director of the Islands and Bays of Barrow & Furness Coastal Team, and Co-Director of Sandy Gap CIC, alongside Charlie MacKeith. There is no limit to her ambition for Art Gene’s role in bringing intelligent social and economic regeneration and reform to the Barrow-in-Furness area and beyond. (Image: Going Home from Here, Maddi Nicholson)


       Andre Reid – Community-led Designer

Andre Reid is a designer, maker from Walsall, UK and founding director of KIONDO; a design research studio which embeds communities in design research, innovation, participatory placemaking and urban regeneration.

Andre is passionate about people and places and believes wholeheartedly that we all hold the potential to reimagine and help shape the world we live in. To accomplish this and create more inclusive, equitable & purposeful places to live within our cities, Andre feels it is imperative that we need to tap into our city’s abundant qualities; it’s resident’s lived experiences and their cultural nuances. (Image courtesy of Andre Reid)


Sign up for this event is now closed. 

Below: Lesh Lane Green Space, photo Anna Litchfield

Further Reading