Sediments – Barrow Islands


Sediments – Barrow Islands
Single Channel Digital Video / 25 mins / 2019

Sound Mix: Aidan McCarthy
Poetic Text (‘Palimpsest’ Poem): Maria M Casian
Featured Interviews: Pete Burton, Iain McNicol, David Keenan, Neil Morrison
Archive Footage courtesy of Barrow Archives, North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University

Commissioned by Art Gene in association with The Islands and Bays of Barrow-In-Furness Coastal Team


Sediments – Barrow Islands explores the history of Barrow in Furness and the tensions between natural and man-made environment, strange earth’s metamorphosis caused by traces of ecological processes and environmental cleanup: Roosecote Power Station near Cavendish Dock, British Cellophane Factory in Sandscale Haws, and Askam slag bank. The film’s narrative arc follows first-hand experiences, personal records and testimonies interwoven with observations of strange sediments and biological traces in connection with the natural transformations in Barrow Islands due to industrialisation.

The archival material is layered with the contemporary footage of the area, juxtaposed and intertwined in a loose ‘assemblage’. The archival image is stripped from its original sound source to remove any traces of historicity. The sound of field recording simulates a drone humming noise, evoking an eerie feeling and pressurised industrial soundscape.

The film references research from Piel Fisheries Laboratory, Cumbria Archives and uses archival footage, courtesy of North West Film Archive, presenting research findings and biological investigations conducted in the 1960’s at the Roosecote Power Station. The material was identified through a series of trips which prepared the ground for an investigative filmmaking practice with fieldwork and cooperation with local residents holding the living memory of the place.

About the collaborators:

The film features collaborations with specialists from various fields of art and science, as well as local voices with lived experience of the place. ‘Palimpsest’ is a poignant poem inspired by Barrow Islands, written in English by the Romanian poet Maria M Casian, also writer of essays, historical literature and specialist in cultural heritage. Biologist and local resident Pete Burton, former National Trust site manager, has long studied new forms of life and transformations in the natural environment after industrialisation and gentrification.

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Film Stills:


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