In March 2018 I was commissioned by the group ARTSPACE to make work inspired by Sir John Barrow Cottage. I thought it might be helpful to begin with a description of the project.

Four artists – myself, John Hall, Alex Blackmoore and storyteller Dominic Kelly, will act as ‘engaged observers’ of  Ulverston social life, history, traditions and environment. We will each explore an aspect of Ulverston as though we were explorers, looking at the town with a new perspective. We will be working from the restored birthplace of the 18th century statesman Sir John Barrow, and the project will reflect Barrow’s work as cultural emissary and chronicler of the ‘manners and amusements’ of other peoples.

We’ll be working in the SJB cottage, the SJB Monument, SJB school and in the town’s public venues. The Cottage will be used as our artist’s shared workshop and presentation space and will be open to the public at agreed points in the project in order to introduce our artists and present work in progress. We are also lucky enough to have been offered the help and knowledge of local historians and archaeologists.

Last year I worked with John on a wonderful project with South Walney Infant School in Barrow-in-Furness, making a A – Z of local natural spaces for families to explore. “Fun In Furness” is a kids-eye guidebook of free and accessible places to visit in our area. It’s made up of 32 pages of mixed – media artwork and poetry by the boys and girls of South Walney Infants School, made during sessions with myself and Kate Davies, along with links to a Walney Sound calendar and some video.


I supported the children in making illustrations for the book, including a field guides of wild flowers and beach flora and fauna. My work explores the natural world, from tiny microbes to giant whales in the ocean. For this project I will be looking at the life in the Beck which runs behind Sir John Barrow Cottage, and will produce a limited edition book illustrating what lives in local rivers, the canal and seashore.

I’m really looking forward to doing this project, learning more about the story of Sir John Barrow and exploring the natural world in the waterways in Ulverston.

First stop: The library.

Eleanor Chaney