Artist in Residence Open Call: Food, futures & biodiversity

Deadline: 20/09/2021  |  Published: 07/09/2021  |  Venue: Allotment Soup: the Isle of Walney Community Growing Space  |  City: Barrow-in-Furness  |  Region: Cumbria  |  Country: United Kingdom  |  Art Gene

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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.

Artists are invited to Barrow-in-Furness for an intensive, collaborative 2 week residency to develop an 'exhibition in the outdoor', 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

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 Spac'’, 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 is 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. More about Allotment Soup:

How to apply

To apply please send: 

  • CV 
  • Expression of interest, and proposal as to how you would approach the residency and engage with the community on the open days (1 page of A4)
  • Up to 10 images of your work, and/or direct link to view selected media online
  • Equal opportunities monitoring form. You can download that here.

Closing 5pm Monday 20th September 2021.

Shortlisted artists will be notified by Friday 24th September for interview on Monday 27th September 2021. 

For any questions or further information, please get in touch.


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.


Contact the curator
Who is eligible for this opportunity?
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.
When is the deadline?
5pm Monday 20th September 2021
How many works can I submit?
To apply please supply a CV, expression of interest, and up to 10 images of previous work and/or direct link to view selected media online.
When is the delivery date?
1 - 14th November 2021
How much does it cost?
There is no entry fee.
Are there payments to artists?
Total fee for artist in residence, £2,400 for 12 days in residence
Is there a private view / opening?
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 on 12th - 13th November 2021.
Does the location have disabled access?
The site is partly accessible. For any questions about accessibility please get in touch.
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