Art Gene’s Spring Programme 2021

Art Gene is pleased to announce an exciting online programme for Spring 2021, with a series of online exhibitions, expert led workshops and international speakers. 

With a focus on food, futures and biodiversity, artists respond creatively to our environment – from investigating the underappreciated aspects of our civic landscape, exploring personal connection to the land, mushrooms as a symbol for resistance, and the significance/ insignificance of a dried grape in Digital Notes.

Extreme Views artist in residence Owen Griffiths invites us to explore methods and processes of working in and with landscape with some amazing contributors in Armchair Walks 2 – Reading Landscape.

Art Gene’s long term project Allotment Soup: the Isle of Walney Community Growing Space springs to it with a series of 6 expert led Ecological Design Workshops, supported by our partner Oakmere Homes.



Thank you for your continued support and cooperation as we adapt and ensure that our staff, audiences and volunteers are safe. We have developed the online elements of our programme, and will be responding to the latest government guidance as we begin to programme new events. Read COVID-19 guidance for attending workshops below.

Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest news. If you have any questions please get in touch.


Armchair Walks 2

Reading Landscape


Armchair Walks 2 – Reading Landscape, artwork by Owen Griffiths using pigment sourced from Barrow-in-Furness


May – June 2021

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 ...

Digital Notes, Sophie Lindsey

April – May 2021

Digital Artist-Curator Sophie Lindsey presents the latest series for 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.

Sophie’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 EXHIBITION



Re:discover Barrow: An Armchair Walk


Above: Duke Street Heritage Action Zone, courtesy of Barrow Archives and Local Studies Centre


Have you lived, worked or shopped on Duke Street, or do you have a story passed down through generations? We want to hear from you!

We hope to find unusual and intriguing stories of shops or shop staff which will bring the history of Duke Street to life and tell the story through the memories of local people. Your stories will aid local archivists, historians and artists to research and record the history of this important street, as we create a new online Armchair Walk for Spring 2021, in partnership with Barrow Borough Council, and funded by Historic England. Find out how to get involved HERE.


Ecological Design Workshops


Above: Practical work at Allotment Soup with Vincent Walsh, photo Daryl Pugh


We’re excited to be starting Spring at Allotment Soup: the Isle of Walney Community Growing Space with Dr Vincent Walsh, Art Gene’s Ecological Designer, with a week packed with action. 

Join Vincent to learn about and create systems which will use ecological design principles to increase soil quality, biodiversity, grow organically and support sustainable development of the site for the future.

Recent developments on site have included 2 Hugel mounds, a new 6 tier composting system, and vermiculture. A focussed week in April will continue this work, laying the groundwork for a forest garden and preparing for a series of 6 Ecological Design workshops.

Ecological Design Workshops

These workshops will introduce you to a range of ecological interventions which will promote sustainability, build resilience and encourage biodiversity. This series has been supported by Oakmere Homes, who are working with Art Gene to encourage native wildlife and flora back to areas around Barrow. They will involve physical work and getting stuck in!

Please specify morning, afternoon or all day!


Saturday 10th April 10am – 4pm – Composting – Creating Feedback Loops

MORNING SLOT 10am – 12:30pm – AFTERNOON SLOT 1:30pm- 4pm

Creating a dedicated compost area is an essential component to support a sustainable growing space. An efficient compost system enables the creation of a continuous feedback loop of organic matter created from waste products from on and off-site.
In this workshop you will learn about the different types of compostable materials, how to prepare them and build the mound to produce a rich and fertile growing medium. Throughout the workshop, you will learn about developing feedback loops, and will have the opportunity to help build the new composting system.


Saturday 24th April 10am – 4pm – Pathways – Building Ecological Networks

MORNING SLOT 10am – 12:30pm – AFTERNOON SLOT 1:30pm- 4pm

The landscape of Allotment Soup contains many areas for wildlife, including several ponds, Hugel mounds, woodland, vegetable growing and compost area. In this workshop we will investigate creative ways of connecting these areas by creating biological pathways by sowing legumes and wildflowers, to provide networks for biodiversity across the site, and fix nitrogen in the soil.


Saturday 8th May 10am – 4pm – Edges – Diversity Popping

MORNING SLOT 10am – 12:30pm – AFTERNOON SLOT 1:30pm- 4pm

The edges between two habitats are often the most important and biologically diverse areas of the garden. At Allotment Soup, the edges between pond, grassland, wildflower meadow or hedgerow offer a plateau of opportunities to create habitats for wildlife. This workshop will investigate opportunities to enhance these important edges, and introduce ways to increase the.


Saturday 22nd May 10am – 4pm – Swale – Creating Life

MORNING SLOT 10am – 12:30pm – AFTERNOON SLOT 1:30pm- 4pm

Water is a starter for all life. At Allotment Soup a number of ponds and ditches were created to help manage the water on site. The next development will create a swale, a new perennial growing area which will extrude out of the main pond.
A permaculture swale is a shallow trench dug along the land’s contour, with a berm on the downhill side created with soil from the trench. In this workshop you will learn about how this method can help manage waterflow, as well as getting stuck in to help create the swale.


Saturday 5th June 10am – 4pm – Forest Gardening – Mimicking Nature

MORNING SLOT 10am – 12:30pm – AFTERNOON SLOT 1:30pm- 4pm

We will be developing a Forest Garden for Allotment Soup!
A Forest Garden is a designed agronomic system based on trees, shrubs and perennial plants. These are mixed in such a way as to mimic the structure of a natural forest – the most stable and sustainable type of ecosystem in this climate.
This workshop will investigate the variety of different ways the system could be developed on this particular site, you will help develop the garden and introduce some of the plants into the emerging forest garden.


Saturday 19th June 2021 10am – 4pm – Hugel Mound – Push Fertility

MORNING SLOT 10am – 12:30pm – AFTERNOON SLOT 1:30pm- 4pm

In this workshop we will create the third Hugel Mound for Allotment Soup. We will collect and sort different types of biomass across the site, create the different layers of the mound, adding everything from green manure, worms and woodchip, and finally planting the mounds with plants for different functionalities.




From 29th March 2021, groups of 6 will be permitted to meet outdoors, and we’ll be resuming events and workshops at Allotment Soup.

As a charity working with the community, it is vital that we do what we can to protect our staff, volunteers and the public safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and adhere to all COVID-19 guidance. You are welcome to join us for these events, ensuring that you follow the steps below, and follow all safety precautions whilst on site. Spaces are limited so book soon!


You are welcome to join us for these events, following the steps below:

  • It is essential that you book or call ahead to let us know you’re coming (see BOOK or CALL AHEAD for each event). We will let you know whether it is safe to come.  BOOK:   /  CALL AHEAD: 07564 783522
  • We will be working outside in a maximum group of 6 people.
  • You will be required to sign in and sanitise your hands upon entering and leaving the site.
  • 2m social distancing will be maintained throughout.
  • Wear gloves when using tools and touching surfaces.

You will need:

  • Weather appropriate outdoor clothing
  • Your own food and drinks (Art Gene will not be providing any refreshments during the COVID-19 pandemic)
  • Gardening gloves
  • Hand sanitising gel


Join Allotment Soup


Above: Bringing in the harvest at Allotment Soup, 2019, photo Maddi Nicholson


Want to grow on Walney?

Get involved in Allotment Soup, the Isle of Walney Community Growing Space, promoting food growing, biodiversity and building resilience and sustainable communities for the future. The Allotment Soup project is a community growing space and resource at heart, open to all. Members can join to learn about growing and contribute towards the future focussed aims of the project, with some taking on a small plot of their own.

To enquire about getting involved or becoming a member of the Allotment Soup community contact or call 01229 825085. You can also join our community of growers on Facebook at

In response to the COVID-19 guidance, Workshops and Workdays at Allotment Soup have been cancelled during the national lockdown. You are of course still able to use the Community Growing Space, using social distancing and COVID precautions. Stay safe!


Field Work Days

Our Field Work Days (usually Friday afternoons 1 – 4pm) are a great place to start. Join us to help out with seasonal gardening tasks, and get involved in species restoration projects with University of Cumbria’s Back On Our Map, and Natural England.

Get in touch with or call 01229 825085 for more information.




Barrow Tarot


Above: Barrow Tarot by Katie Anderson, image courtesy of the artist


Through her time as Extreme Views Artist 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. Through lockdown, Barrow Tarot has been developed into a digital deck, to be used to explore the future of Barrow-in-Furness. PLAY NOW