“What does the future of this town and that of its people look like…beyond the uncertain promise of industry?

‘Extreme Views’ seeks to establish a conversation – a dialogue at the grass roots – the basis for alternative ideas, to forge resilience and build self-determination, to find new community leaders for a likely future without industry – ‘one horse town seeks maverick’

We have never had such a clearly divided society – one which seems hell-bent on destroying itself from within. Maybe these challenges are the imperatives we need to finally consider doing things differently.

To believe in something… to believe in anything… is an increasingly rare ability. We create the future firstly in our imagination but we must have faith, even a degree of naivety to conquer our inner saboteurs, prejudices, hopelessness and confusion.

This is not merely an economic decline it is a failure in social cohesion – civil society. The traditional drivers of cohesion have been lost and we need to reinvent some for our time…

Sustainability lies in the actions of whole communities… 

That means working with the folk you trust and especially the folk you don’t trust – those which share your values and those that don’t.

‘Extreme Views’ begins with deep listening, respect, sharing food, open debate, a mutual valuing of place, the will to cooperate, to learn from each other and an ability to change ones’ mind.”

Stuart Bastik 2019


Barrow is rated the #I borough in England* for the number and quality of its natural heritage assets. Yet the urban core is ranked fifth nationally for health deprivation and disability.

(*RSA Index)

Barrow produces the nation’s continuous at-sea deterrence, faces for the world’s largest offshore wind farm and has the highest percentage of skilled workforce in the north. Yet it has the second largest collection of highly deprived neighbourhoods in England and there are what seem to be intractable challenges for our housing stock.


Barrow ‘is a place that few outside the defence, wind power or extractive gas industries are likely to visit. If anyone knows anything about Barrow it’s that it was … judged by the Office for National Statistics to be the most miserable place in Britain… A place that was once dubbed England’s Chicago because its economy was growing so fast is now synonymous with heroin’.

[Guardian 28/4/2018]


Art Gene’s Extreme Views is a conflict resolver: examining opposing, visual, perceptual, physical, societal and political extreme views. Delivering artworks, from digital apps to artist’s sheds, portable sculpture to Extreme Viewing exhibitions.

The work builds on Art Gene’s strategic vision for the Northwest, but has a wider national resonance and relevance, which will be addressed by disseminating our strategies and methodologies through web based reporting and streamed events.


Together let’s turn the tide!  Celebrate our amazing town!


Extreme Views supports artist, engages communities in place-making in some of the most deprived areas of the country, effecting change for coastal communities.  Over subsequent years, Art Gene’s Extreme Views project will develop and evolve.



Read the Extreme Views Discussion paper


Photo Gallery Credits: Maddi Nicholson, Charlie MacKeith, Rachel Capovila, Ellie Chaney, Colin Chatfield, Anna Litchfield





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. SPEAKERS, FULL INFO & BOOKING.




On food, futures & biodiversity

Digital Notes: reminders, observations, a method, process, tool, practice, a starting point ...


The latest series on Art Gene’s online exhibition space Digital U, Digital Notesexplores themes of food, futures and biodiversity, ​while looking at note making as a method, practice, and process, a starting point to plan and collect knowledge before taking action. Digital Artist-Curator Sophie Lindsey’s playful ethos will explore how we relate both digitally and physically to online spaces, and to consider how we create remote, meaningful connections through digital platforms.

Through a series of webpages, live events and interventions, ​Digital Notes ​will share work/research from: ​Sebastián Calfuqueo,​​ Amanda Gatti ​ & Gustiele FistarólJames Scott,​ and ​Ashley Yuqi Zhang​ & H​ua Zhang, ​along with notes from your curator, Sophie Lindsey. VISIT EXHIBITIONS.



Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic our Spring & Summer programme of Extreme Views events was postponed. We continue to work with Extreme Views Artists in Residence Owen Griffiths and Katie Anderson, and adapt to develop artwork and projects in response to the guidance provided.



8 Words for Barrow-in-Furness installation outside the Nan Tait Centre, photo Anna Litchfield, 2020


In May we asked for your 8 Words for Barrow-in-Furness, in a competition inspired by the appearance of 8 sky blue billboards at Hollywood Park Roundabout in Barrow. We invited locals to add their own words and thoughts to them, with the aim of activating and capturing the voices of local people during this ‘unprecedented’ time.

The online competition received an incredible response, with over 180 entries from people of all ages, ranging from the light-hearted and humorous to sincere calls for change in this time of crisis. Now we present 20 of our favourites as a socially distanced outdoor artwork, which can be viewed outside the Art Gene building on the corner of Bath Street and Abbey Road, Barrow-in-Furness, from October 2020. READ MORE




From left: Barrow Park, image courtesy of Barrow Archive and Local Studies Centre; nature on the Green Corridor; Lesh Lane residential green space, photos Anna Litchfield


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, hosted three Extreme Views Armchair Walks. In development since before lockdown, this postponed event was reinterpreted online in three distinct chapters.

The route takes 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 is an 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. READ MORE



Barrow Tarot by Katie Anderson, image courtesy of the artist

Through her time in residence Katie Anderson has created the Barrow Tarot,  a creative tool to help guide conversations and aid discussion about the future of Barrow-in-Furness. The set of 78 hand-drawn cards are designed to be a playful reference, drawing inspiration from the everyday, the familiar, the hidden and the forgotten in and around Barrow-in-Furness, as experienced by a newcomer to the town, from the meat and potato pie and the rare natterjack toad, to Furness Ironworks and Walney’s female Principle Lighthouse Keeper Peggy Braithwaite.

Inspired by the tradition of Tarot reading, Katie’s deck replaces the 4 suits with Community, Industry, Environment and Culture. Across one weekend in March, Katie provided ‘readings’ for passers by at Barrow Market, a starting point to begin conversations about their vision for the future town. Through lockdown, Barrow Tarot has been developed into a digital deck, to be used to explore the future of Barrow-in-Furness. PLAY NOW





In early 2019 three Extreme Views Days were an opportunity for the local communities to explore the natural and industrial spaces around Askam ‘Pier’, Barrow’s Cavendish Dock and at North Scale, Walney Island on short guided walks with local speakers, to discuss the important features of these sites and their potential futures. On arrival at the Extreme Views event everyone was given the opportunity to ‘Get On Your Soapbox!’, to share their views, eat free hot homemade food, view the artworks, share ideas and memories, identify the challenges and propose solutions.

During summer 2019, Extreme Views Pt. 2  ventured to new locations within the Borough. A walk across the Duddon Estuary guided by local naturalist Pete Burton took participants from Askam-in-Furness to RSPB Hodbarrow, Millom. Barra Night Life returned to Walney Island for a second year running, featuring camping, healthy shared food, light installation artwork, fireside stories, outdoor cinema, bat walks and moth trapping, at Allotment Soup, the Isle of Walney Community Growing Space.



On 4th – 7th April 2019 the Extreme Views Think Tank brought together 50 delegates, including local people, historians, naturalists and Councillors with international artists, designers and academics from the UK, Japan, Romania, Hungary and the US to examine Barrow and Furness’s challenges and explore its strengths.

The Think Tank launched with the opening of Extreme Views Exhibition, showcasing work produced by the Art Gene team and Extreme Views Artists-in-Residence 2018-19. This exhibition brings together film, photography, installation works’ and knowledge achieved through project activity and the Extreme Views events, opened by Barrow Mayor Bill McEwan and Jane Beardsworth, Senior Manager North from the Arts Council.


Exhibiting artists include Stuart BastikMaddi NicholsonLouise AdkinsClara CasianDavid HaleyRachel CapovilaDi McGhee & Sophie Lindsey.


Download: Extreme Views Pt2 2019 summer programme leaflet.



Throughout 2018 Art Gene’s Extreme Views programme projects include Landscape Working Party, Habitat to Habitation, Climavore and The Islands and Bays of Barrow-in-Furness Coastal Team

Join the discussion on social media #ExtremeViewsArtGene



Read an independent an open Review of the Extreme Views programme and engagement events from Spring 2019 – 2020, by Iain Taylor, IMT Consulting.




Photo Gallery Credits: Maddi Nicholson, Charlie MacKeith, Rachel Capovila, Ellie Chaney, Colin Chatfield