International artist to help revitalise town centre

THE work of an international artist is set to help revitalise Barrow’s town centre following a Government funding award.

Contemporary artist Ian Kirkpatrick, who produced commissions for the London 2012 Olympics, the Tour de France and the Oxford Museum of Natural History, was chosen to design a series of murals which will be temporarily displayed on shop fronts in Portland Walk.

Ian’s designs were inspired by a visit to Barrow where he spent time getting to know local history, as well as the borough’s people, industry and nature.

He said: “I’m thrilled to have been chosen as the artist to create the mural along Portland Walk. I was inspired by the many stories, events, places and people I learned about in my archival research at the library and Dock Museum, and also through my explorations of the town and surrounding areas.

“The mural is bright and colourful, with lots of references to Barrow’s past and present. I hope it acts as a point of pride for Barrovians and encourages people, locally and beyond, to come check it out. Public artwork can have such a restorative effect on communities, and I hope this mural – titled ‘Ever Onwards’ – will similarly help revitalise Portland Walk and encourage a renewal of business and public spirit.”

Further improvements to the street have also begun, including street cleansing from GrimeFighter’s Exterior Cleaning and the addition of new planters which will further enhance the look and feel of the street.

Councillor Lee Roberts, Deputy Leader of Barrow Borough Council and its Lead Member for Economic Development and Strategic Partnerships, said: “It is great to see the work on Portland Walk begin following consultations with stakeholders.

“We have already had a fantastic start with the Grimefighters coming in to clean up the street – something that has made such a positive difference. Now we can look forward to the new murals from an internationally acclaimed artist which will be in place very soon.

“We need Barrow’s town centre to be attractive and to offer pleasant surroundings for everyone who visits. This work will help to encourage more people into the town which has so much to offer shoppers and tourists alike.”

Funding for the work was secured by Barrow Borough Council from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, part of the Government’s Levelling Up Agenda. Part of this award was dedicated to upgrading Portland Walk to improve the look of the area and to encourage more businesses to move in.

It was announced in January that BAE Systems Ltd had bought a number of retail units in Portland Walk, including the former Debenhams building, The Body Shop, WH Smith and The Sweet Emporium. These properties will also be used to display the artwork to maximise its impact on the streetscene. Once the buildings are occupied, the artwork will be moved to different locations across Barrow.

The artwork will be in place for April 1 to coincide with the Festival of Colours, a unique celebration of diversity and creativity within the borough.

Artist Ian Kirkpatrick stands in front of a mural he created for a town project in 2021.jpg

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