Above: aerial view of Lesh Lane green space for Armchair Walks Season 1, filmed by Colin Aldred, Aerial Artwork.
Extreme Views: Armchair Walks
Part of Art Gene’s Extreme Views programme of community engaged consultation and events around the extreme coastal landscape of Barrow and Furness, 2020’s global pandemic prompted a rethinking of events and reinterpretation online.
Extreme Views Artist in residence Owen Griffiths developed Armchair Walks, a series of online events, tours around Barrow-in-Furness, with a focus on the town’s green spaces, civic landscape and future landscape. 2020’s Armchair Walks Season 1 explored a route from Barrow Park to Lesh Lane, now 2021’s Season 2 will continue the discussion.
Read on to book for Season 2, and revisit all events in the series so far.
civic life, planting, climate crisis, carbon capture, habitat making, health & wellbeing
Continuing 2020’s programme of online walks and talks set within the ‘extreme’ landscape of Barrow-in-Furness, this second season will explore methods and processes of working in and with landscape with some amazing contributors.
Join Artist in Residence Owen Griffiths and invited guest speakers from the fields of architecture, activism and art, as we further explore landscapes in flux, from the civic to the post-industrial, and how together we can understand and protect our green spaces.
We hope you will join us for all three chapters, drawing on the insights shared through presentations to build a working group for Barrow-in-Furness, imagining how we can move forward with care, paying attention to and protecting local habitats, knowledge and resources.
Chapter 1 – Landscape Healing
With guest speakers Haakon Rasmus Rasmussen & Sakina Sheikh
Tuesday 18th May 6:00pm BST
Still from ‘Landscape Healing’, a film by Richard John Seymour in collaboration with 3rw Architects. Image courtesy of Haakon Rasmus Rassmussen.
In this first event, we will be speaking with architect Haakon Rasmus Rasmussen and councillor and campaigner Sakina Sheikh. We will discuss the after effects of industry and capitalism on landscape, what healing and recovery can look like and the role imagination plays in rebuilding a place and responding to multiple crises.
When signing up for this event you will receive a private link to watch Landscape Healing, a cinematic documentary following the largest act of rewilding in Norway, by BAFTA-nominated film director Richard John Seymour and produced by 3RW arkitekter, Founded by Armchair Walks speaker Haakon Rasmus Rasmussen, to watch before the event.
The film tells the story of how a multidisciplinary group of people has been quietly conducting a project that could set a precedent for humanity’s next great challenge: the rewilding of our planet back to a sustainable level.
FREE EVENT. ONLINE – BOOK NOW
Chapter 2 – Shared Ecologies
With guest speaker Rachel Pimm
Tuesday 25th May 2021 06:00pm BST
Volcanic Rocks, Rachel Pimm. Image courtesy of the artist.
With artist Rachel Pimm, this event will explore what it means to consider landscape from the perspectives of the non-human.
Together we will begin to listen in to the animal, vegetal and mineral processes that continually shape and reshape the shared environments and ecologies we are always a part of.
FREE EVENT. ONLINE – BOOK NOW
Chapter 3 – Mapping Methodologies
Workshop with Owen Griffiths
Saturday 12th June 02:00 – 05:00pm BST
Imagine this landscape in 100 years time, artwork by Owen Griffiths, part of Armchair Walks Season 1
Join artist Owen Griffiths ‘in real life‘ in the polytunnel at Allotment Soup to begin a collective mapping of the lost, unseen, abandoned and undervalued landscapes of Barrow-in-Furness. We will bring together research from the previous events to form a working group, imagining how we can move forward with care, paying attention to and protecting local habitats, knowledge and resources.
FREE EVENT. BOOK NOW.
Barrow Park to Lesh Lane
Civic space, health & wellbeing, green pockets, biodiversity, usership, geological history, carbon capture, climate crisis, species, desire lines, utopias.
Above: Extreme Views: Armchair Walks Trailer, film by Colin Aldred.
In July – August 2020, Extreme Views Artist in Residence, Owen Griffiths, hosted Extreme Views Armchair Walks.
In development since before the COVID-19 national lockdown, the planned Extreme Views event was reinterpreted online in three distinct chapters.
Our route travelled 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 took the form of an online video dialogue via Zoom, featuring film and images of the route with narration by the invited expert speakers, including architects, artists, naturalists, and landscape designers, followed by time for questions or discussion.
With speakers: Owen Griffiths, Charlie MacKeith, Pete Burton, Daisy Froud, Kate Davis, Vincent Walsh, Melissa Appleton, Andre Reid, John Little, Maddi Nicholson & Stuart Bastik. Read about all speakers below.
Chapter 1 – Barrow Park
29th July 2020
The first site will focuses 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? Watch the full event above.
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
5th August 2020
In this second event, we look 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. Watch the full event above.
Melissa Appleton – Artist & Producer
Pete Burton – Naturalist
& Vincent Walsh – Ecological Designer & Sustainable Food Specialist.
Chapter 3 – Lesh Lane
12th August 2020
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. Watch the full event above.
John Little – Landscape Designer
Pete Burton – Naturalist
Andre Reid – Community-led Designer
Stuart Bastik – Artist/Director Art Gene
& Maddi Nicholson – Artist/Director Art Gene.
Below: A provocation; aerial view of Lesh Lane green space, image by Colin Aldred; Andre Reid, community led designer;
Lesh and green space, image courtesy of Barrow Archives and Local Studies Centre
Owen Griffiths – Artist
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.
In 2020 Griffiths founded Ways of Working, a social enterprise in order to work in ways he feels are urgent. Griffiths graduated from the School of Walls and Space at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and is a member of the Social Sculpture Research Unit at Oxford Brookes University. (Image courtesy of the Owen Griffiths)
Haakon Rasmus Rasmussen is a Founding Partner of 3RW arkitekter and has led the office’s planning and feasibility projects since 2001. Rasmussen has extensive experience in project and design management, construction economics and LCC analysis. He is specialized in building and urban space security, and was co-editor of the new National Norwegian Standard NS5834, “Societal security – Protection against intentional undesirable actions – Planning of security measures in the built environment”, that was published in 2016.
Rasmussen has more than 20 years of experience from projects within the Norwegian Defense Sector, where he has been a counsellor for the sector’s recent restructuring processes, engaging in projects spanning from national plans to buildings and installations. He is the associate editor of The City Between Security and Freedom (2017) and the co-editor of GIS; the Geographic Language of our Age (norwegian edition 2008, English edition 2009), which has been used as a manual for introducing GIS as a planning tool since. Between 2011 and 2015, he was CEO of 3RW arkitekter, and he was recently a manager in the Bergen Light Rail masterplan project in cooperation with Sweco. Apart from practicing, Rasmussen teaches at colleges and universities in Norway and abroad, and is part of national and international juries for architectural and planning competitions.
Sakina Sheikh is a local Councillor in Lewisham and a Labour candidate for the upcoming London Assembly elections 2021. In her day job, she is a Climate Justice campaigner at the charity Platform working on the London LEAP project which aims to centre grassroots voices in the climate transition, and create radical transformative visions for a future full of climate justice and abundance. She has previously worked on the fossil fuel divest campaign and building the case for community owned energy companies in our local councils, through energy democracy.
Rachel Pimm (b. Harare, 1984, lives Northamptonshire UK) works in sculpture, text, photography, video and performance to explore environments and their materialities, biochemistries, histories and politics. They are interested in queer, feminist and post-colonial materialisms, natural histories and resource extraction, and the potential of surfaces and matter to transform.
Their recent work has been included in programmes including the Serpentine Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery, Jerwood Space, Chisenhale Gallery and The Royal Academy (all London 2014-20) as well as internationally across Europe and the USA. Residencies include Loughborough University Chemical Engineering, Gurdon institute of Genetics at Cambridge University, Rabbit Island, Michigan, USA and was Whitechapel Gallery Writer in Residence 2019-20. Rachel is currently lecturing at UAL and has a forthcoming commission with Artangel and Arts Catalyst in 2021.
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)
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)
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)