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Boxing champion turned poet joins dream project to show off the best of Barrow

Matt Windle, poet by day, boxer by night, who is working on the Barrow Dreams project

A former boxing champion turned poet is among four artists working with Barrow people on a dream project.

Matt Windle is a recent Commonwealth boxing champion and former Birmingham Poet Laureate who has joined the Barrow Dreams project along with artists, Sarah Hardacre, Milly Rolle and Rich Rusk.

They are running workshops encouraging Barrow people to tell stories of the town’s past, present and future as part of BarrowFull’s aim to increase participation in the arts, especially among less engaged groups.

Matt is working with Barrovian men aged 20-59 on the ‘Present’ element of the project.

“My time in Barrow will see me work with local men as we explore short forms of poetry and spoken word," said Matt.

"The sessions are designed to engage everyday people, regardless of whether they have a history of being creative or have never put pen to paper in their life.

“I quickly learnt that Barrovians are rightfully proud of where they are from and this project allows them to show that off. I will be alongside the members of the group every step of the way and with over 16 years experience, I'm confident that I can help even the most reluctant writer to create pieces of work that they can be proud of.”

Below, boxing champion Matt Windle with Barrow boxers he's invited to join the Barrow Dreams project

Phase one of Matt’s work ends in June at Barrow Football Club where the men’s poetry will be written across the pitch of the Holker Street stadium as part of an exhibition.

While Matt and his poets focus on the Present, artists Milly Rolle and Rich Rusk have started working with teenagers and older adults to imagine the Future.

They are exploring this theme during creative workshops and conversations with Barrovians aged 11-19 and 60 plus and the results will inspire short films produced during the summer.

The films will be shared using Virtual Reality headsets at free pop-ups in September across different locations in town including Barrow Library. There will also be a mini exhibition of visual artwork created as part of the project.

“After the first stage, we are already feeling inspired by Barrow’s creativity,” said Milly Rolle.

“So far our participants have explored ways to bring colour and life to empty and abandoned spaces, talked about aspirations for the future, expressed pride in the kindness of the local community, imagined portals to dream worlds and conjured stories of small town legends.”

Barrovian women aged 20-59 have been invited to work with artist Sarah Hardacre (pictured below) on the Past part of the project.

Sarah is no stranger to Barrow having been artist in residence for Re:Discover Barrow Lost Shops last year.

For Reclaiming the Past, she is researching and uncovering stories of Barrow’s extraordinary and ordinary women.

“They will be women who’ve achieved fame and notoriety, been the first females in previously male-only jobs, led their fields in engineering and arts, and women who’ve built Barrow and their communities in the town,” said Sarah.

“From the dockyards to the hairdressing salons, from the dance halls to the kitchen tables, this project will celebrate women from all corners of the community.”

The project will culminate with a celebration in the streets of all the women of Barrow who make the town one to be proud of.

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