Monday, 30 April 2018


We are holding a couple of Artist's Visitor days this month at the Cottage.  These will give you a chance to meet our artists, hear their ideas and see some work in progress over a cuppa and a biscuit.
Ellie and Project Manager John will be around on Wednesday the 9th of May, from 10am to 2pm, and Alex and John will be in on Friday the 11th, same time.

The cottage is also open on thursdays and sundays, where Green Lane Archaeology and historians Iain McNicol and Karen Mason will be doing their respective things.

Thursday, 26 April 2018


Alex Blackmore operates in an area where celebration, ceremony and ritual overlap, and where the reasons for what we do are often thought lost, but may be evident in the detail and poetry of the event.
  Alex has begun work on a version of the macabre and flamboyant 'obby 'oss, which can be seen in various incarnations around the country  adding an unreadable and disruptive presence to May Day
and other celebrations.

A taste of the license provided by costume and anonymity will be
provided at Sir John Barrow School where Alex will be passing on his mask-making skills to the
children and staff, who will be working from these simple templates towards something of  their own.

You can meet Alex and the
'Oss In Progress on May 11th when he will be working at the
Sir John Barrow Cottage
from 10 am to 2pm.
Here's a map....

Thursday, 19 April 2018


We got our first bit of press today, front page and all and it's nice to see the support of our local councillors included in it.

One of the most important things about  projects like this is getting the information out and keeping the thing in the public eye even when not much seems to be going on..the local press and radio are the first point of contact for most people so I tend to spend quite a
lot of time on press releases in the
hope of getting the story over as clearly and  accurately as possible.

Not sure that we are a "Hub" of any kind though; it might turn out that way, but the aim right now is to make some interesting work for our main sites and around town, publicise
the cottage and provide
SJB school with some good
experiences and new skills.

The plan is to send regular information
and updates to the Mail and to
Radio Cumbria, so keep
 your eyes open for announcements
as to our open sessions and events.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018


Ellie Chaney's project blog is up and running, and her initial research has kindled an interest in Sir John Barrow's wife Anna Maria Truter,  a noted botanical illustrator. 
As is often the case, her story has been neglected despite her achievements and skill, and examples of her work are hard to find. Here is an example found in a book called South African Botanical Art, edited by Marion Arnold.

You can read Ellie's account and follow her progress here:

There's more about Ellie herself here:

followed by a quote from Ellie's own introduction to her work. Our most recent collaboration was as South Walney Infants school in Barrow, where Ellie led the enormously varied series of workshops that led to the popular Fun In Furness book, the children's guide to affordable and accessible places to visit in our area.

"My practice is an ongoing exploration into our complex relationship with nature in the 21st century. I am fascinated by places where the needs of people 
engage, impact, or clash with the needs of other species, for example in a positive way such as on permaculture inspired allotments or the more difficult examples of sites where environmental concerns and industrial requirements meet and conflict. As an artist living in South Cumbria there are many examples of this, with beautiful coastal nature reserves and the National Park alongside some of the biggest industries in the UK.

To do this I use a variety of approaches including paper arts, photographic processes, animation and film making. I also create dialogic projects where I meet with people and document their stories about these topics. I always aim to ask questions and encourage discussion rather then giving judgement or answers."


Dominic Kelly is a  Performance Storyteller working within the oral tradition. His powerful and entertaining style has captivated audiences in theatres, festivals and schools across fifteen countries on three continents. 

He directs storytelling performances for Rikscenen, Norway's national folk arts centre and teaches storytelling at Stockholm's Royal College of Music. He has directed storytelling programmes for festivals including Litfest, Larmer Tree Festival and Solfest. He is an associate member of Fabula Storytelling company in Stockholm.   Dominic tours performance pieces for adults and children, directs storytelling performances for major venues, and trains actors and other professionals in storytelling techniques. He has worked at The Barbican, National Theatre, Soho Theatre, Teater Pero, The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, The British Museum and festivals around the world from India to the Arctic Circle.

After meeting with ourselves and Sir John Barrow School, Dominic has begun to develop a programme of sessions that will introduce the schoolchildren to his artform, provide them with storytelling and performance skills and a platform on which to present their work.

Here's Dominic's website, and his ideas for his contribution to our project.
We are very glad to be working Dominic, this looks like a exciting process which will enrich the school and reach beyond it and into the life of the town.

"We will kick off with my giving a storytelling performance for the group so they can firstly just enjoy storytelling and also get a feel for the artform.

The stories I tell them will be short, dynamic folktales that are widely found and great fun to tell. The children will get to choose from amongst these stories the ones that they would like to play with and tell themselves. These traditional tales are so robust, and have been told in so many different ways that they can be changed and adapted and mucked about with so that the children really own them! They will have to the chance to make their own version of their chosen story as if it had happened in Ulverston, pulling into the tale as many bits of local colour and fun as they like.

 This is basically playtime with a story! The children are in charge and can fully allow their creativity to reimagine the story in its new home.

We’ll then open the toolbox of techniques for actually telling the new stories to an audience. We’ll play with stepping in and out of characters, using body language and having fun with our voices to make storytelling as fun and interesting as possible for both the children who are telling and the audience. 
The project will culminate in the children giving storytelling performances of their tales in public."



The project is based at the restored birthplace of the 18thc statesman Sir John Barrow, and will reflect Barrow's work as cultural emissary and chronicler of the 'manners and amusements' of  people in other lands. 

Visual Artist Ellie Chaney, Outdoor Celebration specialist Alex Blackmore and Storyteller Dominic Kelly will produce new work on themes exploring the local andscape and the social and environmental structures of the town for installation and performance at the cottage, the Sir John Barrow Monument and in partnership with Sir John Barrow school. 

The Cottage will host open sessions where visitors can meet the artists and see their work - in - progress, while project leader John Hall will work with locally based artists on a programme of sessions at Sir John Barrow School, and other events will take place around town throughout the year. Keep an eye out for further announcements.

This project has been in development for a while and it's great to see our artists take the first steps into their projects. We are grateful to Ulverston Town Council for their support and enthusiasm, and we look forward to working along side Green Lane Archaeaology in order to explore the cottage and re-introduce it to the life of the town.