IN DEFENCE OF INDUSTRY
Supported by Arts Council England
Commissioned by Signal Media
In Defence of Industry brings into focus the relationship between the industrial history of Barrow-in-Furness and the wider Cumbrian landscape, in particular the area’s mining history and the subsequent shift towards the nuclear industry during the mid-twentieth century. Cutting to the heart of the continuing political issues surrounding the impact of nuclear industry, in the town best known for being the place where Trident submarines are built, the work raises themes around defence, secrecy and the unseen earth below the surface.
The area’s grand industrial past has been reduced to traces, evident only in stories, archival materials, and the occasional relic reclaimed by nature. This installation uses these hidden histories to talk about our potential nuclear future in a landscape which doesn’t just aid defence, but also requires it. The photo collage work is printed as a four metre light box, sitting on the edge of a huge expanse of water in the gallery space. This use of water echoes the man-made docks at BAE, nuclear repositories, and the lakes in the surrounding Cumbrian Landscape; an area which is continually under threat as a site for burying nuclear waste. This work imagines the unknown effects of the fusion between the nuclear and the natural, whilst exploring ideas around excavation and mining from the area’s iron-ore mining past.
Presented at a pertinent time in the weeks leading up to the general election, this work also questions the future of a traditionally working-class, labour stronghold. Under the current government, our nuclear defence continues to grow, and as a result, the local landscape of Barrow is changing. But what is the future of an area whose values conflict with the opposition?
This project was commissioned by Signal Film and Media as a part of their wider Lost Stations project; a series of digital art opportunities taking place in Barrow-in-Furness, supported by Arts Council England. This commission is part of an ambitious project to bring contemporary art to the area.