Open Call


Image: Reading Landscape workshop with Owen Griffiths, at Art Gene’s Allotment Soup: the Isle of Walney Community Growing Space,
photo Maddi Nicholson


Artist in Residence Open Call

Extreme Views – Food, futures & biodiversity


Open Call poster. A table is laid for an event next to a pond in a green field. Text: Open Call, Artist in residence, food futures & biodiversity. Closing 5pm 20/09/21.




In this shifting world, communities return to the land, seek refuge in the environment and sustenance in nature, and Art Gene takes up residence on our outside project space, Allotment Soup.

Extreme Views – Food, futures & biodiversity will create an engaged art and environmental experience in the landscape. Artists are invited to Barrow-in-Furness for an intensive, collaborative 2 week residency to develop an ‘exhibition in the outdoors’, engaging with locals, creating interventions, provocations, and working with and around challenging issues for these extreme times.

In the final weekend the artists as guides will welcome the local community, to share the experience and add to the conversation, in a programme of open free events. Please see how we plan to make these events COVID safe below.

The 2 week residency coincides with COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference hosted in Glasgow. We hope artists will respond to this occasion, to investigate how artists can engage with, and affect meaningful and urgent change in how we use and relate to our climate. The residency will extend Art Gene’s current programme Extreme Views, to explore the pressing issues impacting on local people, place and biodiversity as we step out into the new normal.

As Lead Artist in Residence, Owen Griffiths, alongside Art Gene’s Artist/Directors Maddi Nicholson & Stuart Bastik, will support the 3 Artists in Residence throughout.  Owen has been Extreme Views Artist in Residence with Art Gene since 2019, creating the online Extreme Views: Armchair Walks, and digital green space mapping.


Owen’s provocation sets the scene:

      What is it to live, work, parent, care and be part of a community in a time of climate collapse? How can we model and articulate ways of working with hope whilst taking responsibility for the ongoing colonisation of land and the labour of others? How can we become good ancestors working for future generations, and not as the philosopher Roman Krznarick states, ‘colonise the future’ ?

      During the pandemic, we’ve seen global uprisings; against racial injustice, climate injustice and social injustice. These have prompted deeper and more urgent dialogues around who has access to land, and where the traces of empire and the industrial still remain powerful forces in our histories, curriculums and public spaces. These realities are interwoven with the collapse of our climate. Economics and capitalism consistently fail us, yet we continue to seek solutions in these structures.

      To begin as a community, to work together with friends, neighbours and allies, we have to work locally. We must dig where we stand. The Allotment Soup site, on the Island of Walney in Barrow-in-Furness, is an example of this local and radical work – hosting global dialogues whilst being firmly rooted in the specificities of a landscape that bears the scars of the industrial revolution. It’s a complicated landscape of contradictions, warmth, nature, biodiversity and resilience, but it’s also located on an island which is shrinking.

      During the week of COP26, we will work with a collection of artists, local people and global voices to find common ground and hope. We will model new ways of working towards climate justice, land justice and radical futures –  from a small corner of a field, on an island at this point in late capitalism.

Owen Griffiths, 2021


Image: Artist Owen Griffiths places pins, string and hand written notes on a map of Barrow.

Owen Griffiths’ Mapping Methodologies workshop, at Allotment Soup, photo. Anna Litchfield


Owen Griffiths, Lead Artist in Residence

Owen Griffiths is an artist, workshop leader and facilitator living and working in Wales. Using participatory and collaborative processes, his socially engaged practice explores the possibilities of art to create new frameworks and resources. This takes many forms, including events, rituals, dialogues, making gardens, codesigning spaces, curating events and cooking feasts. Griffiths explores climate, landscape, urbanism, social justice, food systems and pedagogy, creating projects and events that prepare us for the work of the future.


Info & dates for artists

  • Residency period: 12 days between 1 – 14th November 2021, made up of 10 days R&D, and 2 days of public tours & exhibition in the outdoors.
  • Location: Art Gene’s ‘Allotment Soup: the Isle of Walney Community Growing Space’, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, LA14 3XX, UK. Please note this residency will take place predominantly outside during November 2021.
  • Total fee £2,400 for 12 days in residence
  • Local accommodation provided between 1 – 14th November 2021.
  • Artists working in any medium are invited to apply. You will have shared use of the outdoor space, sheltered workshop poly tunnels and tools whilst on site, as well as access to Art Gene’s studios and workshops.
  • Artists are encouraged to use repurposed or natural materials where possible. A small additional materials budget is available for each artist.
  • It’s intended that artwork created throughout the residency will be temporary. It will be documented through film and photography before being dismantled. The process will be shared online, and selected works may form part of Art Gene’s forthcoming gallery exhibition later in the year.

We encourage applications from artists identifying as Disabled, BAME & LGBTQ+. If you would like any assistance with the application process, please get in touch.


About Allotment Soup

Allotment Soup; the Isle of Walney Community Growing Space, occupies a field on Walney Island, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. More than just an allotment the design of the site, interventions and actions are about growing food, habitats, new ideas and people. The field is a site for play and social connection but also for environmental activism and strategic re-wilding of both local habitats and people. The site is partially accessible.


How to apply






COVID-19: We take seriously our responsibility to ensure a safe environment for our staff, artists and volunteers. Three working scenarios have been developed to ensure this residency can be completed safely, and in line with shifting COVID-19 guidance.

All events will take into account the particular social distancing and restrictions, group numbers or tiering at the time. Every process will be developed to make it as COVID safe, as possible, for all involved including distinct working spaces, outdoor working, regular testing, limited audience numbers and digital production. If you’d like any more information on how we plan to keep this project COVID safe, please get in touch.


About Art Gene

Art Gene is an artist-led research and production company based in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, working to regenerate the social, natural and built environment through an engaged visual arts practice, working collaboratively with communities, architects, and other professionals.

The project is part of Art Gene’s Extreme Views programme, which brings communities and specialists into a conversation about this place through research, engagement and participatory outdoor events.





Below: Image: Reading Landscape workshop with Owen Griffiths, at Art Gene’s Allotment Soup: the Isle of Walney Community Growing Space, photo Anna Litchfield


Image: Event inside poly tunnels at Allotment Soup. 2 charcoal drawings on fabric hand either side of a refreshments table.

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