REAL Barrow Food, futures & biodiversity

Artist in Residence Open Call

Art Gene invites an artist to take up a six-week residency at our Isle of Walney outdoor project space, Allotment Soup, in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, to create an engaged art and environmental commission in the landscape.

The residency will allow the artist to develop ‘temporary artworks’, create interventions, provocations, and work with and around real issues for these challenging times whilst engaging with local people through focussed workshops and events.

Public engagement is a significant element of the residency. Art Gene holds well developed partnerships with community groups and volunteers, including with the recently arrived asylum seeking communities in the town.

On 16 September 2023, Art Gene will welcome our communities to Allotment Soup for a REAL Barrow open day. The artist will share their works and experience and local people will add to the conversation. Other artists’ artwork and activities will form part of the free event and ‘exhibition in the outdoors’.

The six-week residency is part of Art Gene’s new programme REAL Barrow working around the social, natural, and built environment with communities to make change. Together we will examine the collisions of art, industry and nature in the landscape of Barrow.

At Allotment Soup we explicitly explore the pressing issues impacting on local people, this place and our biodiversity. This work is part of our commitment to environmentally sound, low carbon working, and to the Zero Carbon Cumbria Partnership.

Owen Griffiths, Artist in Residence 2021, says of Allotment Soup:

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 … is an example of 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; it’s also located on an island that is shrinking.


Art Gene’s Allotment Soup: Isle of Walney Community Growing Space, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, LA14 3XX, UK. See the Facebook page.

Residency period

Six weeks/30 days over July, August and September with at least 20 days based in Barrow, and a suggested 18 (half day) public engagement sessions, including the exhibition in the outdoors.


Total fee £9k in residence, to include accommodation and travel expenses. Based on 30 days @ £250 per day = £7,500.

Artists are encouraged to use repurposed materials where possible. A small additional materials budget of £1,000 is available. At Allotment Soup you will have use of the outdoor space, including pond, and large sheltered workshop polytunnels.

Art Gene’s studios, fabrication workshop and our extensive range of workshop tools and offices are also available for artists’ use free of charge on a 24-hour basis: The Nan Tait Centre, Bath Street, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria LA14 5TY.

Local self-catering accommodation will be provided a short distance away from Allotment Soup. You will have access to an electric bike to get around, if appropriate.

Further information

Art Gene’s Allotment Soup; 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. 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. Investigate further:

It is intended that works created throughout the REAL Barrow residency will be temporary and site specific in nature. Selected works may be chosen to form part of Art Gene’s gallery exhibition in 2024.

The residency will be shared online, with a dedicated artist’s page on Art Gene’s website, and promoted through Art Gene’s newsletter and social media.

We encourage applications from disabled artists, artists from Black, Asian or minority ethnic communities or LGBTQ+ people. Please be aware that Allotment Soup is a field site, and not fully accessible. There is a step up (direct from the road not a pavement) to the entrance, and both rough grass and gravel pathways.

How to apply

To apply, please send:

  • a CV
  • an Expression of interest, and proposal as to how you would approach the residency and engage with the community (up to 1 page of A4)
  • 10 images of your work
  • Your access rider, if appropriate (optional)
  • Our equal opportunities online monitoring form. (Note: for Q1&2 choose the date you apply from the calendar; for Q12 choose ‘By Myself’ from the dropdown menu).

Via email to by 10am on Tuesday 20th June 2023.

Shortlisted artists will be notified the following week for online interview on 26th or 27th June 2023.

If you would like any assistance with the application process, or have any queries, please get in touch.

Download a PDF: REAL Barrow Artist in Residency

About Art Gene

Art Gene is an artist-led research and production charity working to regenerate the social, natural, and built environment through an engaged visual arts practice. We work collaboratively in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria with communities, artists, architects, and other professionals. This residency is part of Art Gene’s REAL Barrow programme, which brings communities and specialists into a conversation about this place through research, engagement, participatory outdoor events, and artworks. See 

Image: Feeding folk and feeding the land, all part of the Allotment Soup Field Friday sessions. Photo: Maddi Nicholson

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