Cumbria Crack

New photography exhibition explores life on the West Coast

Ivor Nicholas – Rescued Baby Seal with Inspector F.G Haskins, RSPCA Whitehaven. November 1959

This October half-term, Signal Film and Media will present their compelling new photographic exhibition WEST COAST PHOTO at The Dock Museum, Barrow-in-Furness, launching their new year-long programme celebrating the West Coast of Cumbria through creative digital and photographic projects.

This exhibition brings together for the first time a wide collection of photographs and video works by more than 20 local and national artists and photography enthusiasts, exploring the ways photographers, filmmakers and artists have documented the West Coast of Cumbria from the early 20th Century to now.

The exhibition launches with an open evening drinks reception and talk by selected artists on Friday 25th October from 6.30pm-8.30pm. This will be followed by a fun family-friendly event on Saturday 26th October 2019 from 12pm – 3pm, where there will be activities for all ages, including hands-on workshops, informal talks and refreshments. Entry is free and all are welcome. Following the launch weekend, opening times will be Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-4pm until 15th January 2020.

Jem Southam – Rampside Lighthouse, Morecambe Bay. From the series ‘Clouds Descending’. 2011

West Coast Photo showcases life on the west coast, past and present, from Barrow to Maryport and from the traditional to the unique; from the area’s stunning landscape and wildlife, to women in industry and the area’s global industrial links; childhood and recreation to protest and politics. Some of the striking snapshots include giant turtles washed up on the beach, ‘screen girls’ working their last shift in the west Cumbrian collieries, Daniel Meadow’s iconic Barrow portraits from the 1970s and gigantic pinhole photographs using Whitehaven Lighthouse as a camera.

The exhibition includes work from internationally-renowned contemporary photographers Martin Parr, Daniel Meadows, Joanne Coates and Felicity Hammond, as well as local artists and photographers Brian Moxham, Phil Green and Zoe Forster. Visitors will also have the rare opportunity to discover images and artefacts from two remarkable local archives, many items of which have never been exhibited before: The astonishing Sankey Family Photographic Collection of images and postcards documenting Barrow and Cumbria between the years of 1890 and 1960 that were posted all over the world, and Ivor Nicholas’ stunning work, a press photographer based in Whitehaven who has documented the West Coast from 1950 to today.

The exhibition will appeal to visitors of all ages, whether they have a keen interest in photography, local history or simply want to see a different side to this fascinating area. Locals may even be able to spot some familiar faces amongst the collections! Throughout the exhibition run, families can also collect a free activities pack upon entry, suitable for children aged 4-10.

“This project aims to reveal, explore and celebrate this often-overlooked part Cumbria and the UK, sharing stories of its past, present and future far and wide. Photography and digital art is such a great way to do this and working with a whole range of communities it will capture and reveal aspects of the fascinating areas of the West Coast for 1000s of people to see and be part of!” Loren Slater, Director, Signal Film and Media

West Coast Photo marks the beginning of two exciting longer-term projects from Signal Film and Media; Seeing the North with Sankey, a 2-year project of activities exploring The Sankey Family Photographic collection, culminating in the creation of a permanent public archive funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the West Coast Photo Festival, a festival of lens-based media taking place over 8-weeks in Spring 2020 between Barrow, Millom, Workington and Whitehaven, which will include new artist commissions, workshops, talks and an artist development programme kindly supported by Arts Council England.

For information please contact [email protected] or visit the website.

Signal Film and Media would like to thank the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and the Garfield Weston Foundation for their support of Seeing the North With Sankey and Arts Council England and the Sir John Fisher Foundation for their support of West Coast Photo.

The photographs supplied with this article have been kindly supplied with permission by the artists: Joanne Coates, Daniel Meadows, Jem Southam & Ivor Nicholas.

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