Exciting Debut International Photography Festival explores and celebrates the Cumbrian West Coast.

With the first ever Festival having to be postponed in March 2020, just days before the first Coronavirus lockdown, there is now a two-part relaunch, with even more world-class commissions, artists, events & exhibitions.

CHAPTER ONE: Summer showcase launches Thursday 3 JUNE 2021 with exhibitions online & in public spaces, plus an open call competition.
» Announcing new commissioned work by award-winning digital artist Mishka Henner in collaboration with Vaseem Bhatti.
» West Coast on Film with Cumbrian artists RL Wilson, Julia Parks and Rachel Capovila.
» New work by emerging Cumbrian artists Rhiannon Hunter, Danielle Chapelle Aspinwall & Zoe Forster.
» Labouring the Landscape: Participatory photography project led by Robert Parkinson.
» The Fells with Iron Ribbons – an experimental sound-based work from Cumbrian young people led by artist and DJ, Ashley Holmes.
» Public outdoor installation in Barrow of famous photograph Boy with Pigeon by photographer Chris Killip.
» FREE Open Call competition – selected photos to be a part of our autumn Festival.
» Workshops, talks and the new West Coast Photo Publication bringing the Festival into your own home.

CHAPTER TWO: Autumn offering opens Thursday 7 OCTOBER 2021 with gallery exhibitions & public talks at Cooke’s Studios, Barrow-in-Furness.
» An extraordinary exhibition bringing together for the first time the work of two acclaimed British social documentary photographers, Vanessa Winship & Phoebe Kiely.
» The Caravan Gallery will create their Barrow Pride of Place project at Barrow Market.
» Cumbrian Focus: exhibition of new work from local & emerging photographers featuring Marie Smith, Katrin Joost, John Darwell, Mario Popham, Henry Iddon and Philip Green.

The event organisers are delighted to be able to relaunch the first major festival of international photography and digital art in this part of the UK, a stretch of 100 miles of industrial and coastal towns lining the edge of Cumbria – England’s second largest county. Its wealthier and more ‘picturesque’ neighbour might be The Lake District, however the West Coast boasts starkly beautiful natural and striking man-made landscapes surrounding industrial coastal towns. Remnants of coal mines and the alien tombs of Sellafield Nuclear Power Plant contrast with Scafell Pike, only miles away. This exciting new festival reveals and celebrates the unique identity of this ‘hidden’ area and the character of its people through the work of leading international and regional artists using photography and digital art to articulate local, national and international identities. This county-wide Festival provides a rare opportunity in one of the UK’s most deprived areas to see world class exhibitions and exciting new commissions, at a time when the pandemic has fuelled further isolation of this often overlooked area of Cumbria.

Much has changed over the last year. The organisers were due to launch just before the UK was plunged into a national lockdown and Barrow hit the headlines for its high coronavirus rates. As it now relaunches, they are reflecting on the ways to now engage with contemporary photography and how to use digital art to connect to each other. As a result, half of the Festival is moving completely online in June and many of the original artists have changed work to reflect their experiences during this past tumultuous year. Also included are new artists who are responding to issues such as the ongoing mental health pandemic worsened by continual lockdowns and isolation, and the climate crisis and how it affects the Cumbrian landscape.

The organisers are excited to be showcasing a new portrait of this area and to continue to develop new talent and work with diverse audiences and communities.

For further information, to register your interest or for any other queries please contact Helen Bartosinski at helen@signalfilmandmedia.co.uk / 07732 194 028

West Coast Photo Festival 2021