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if only walls could talk

Margaret James-Barber

If Only Walls Could Talk


1st-16th October

Project description:

If only walls could talk / Eyes on Stalks  

Through FRED, walls, silent witness to history, stare back unblinking.

Thousands of visitors have admired and stared at the landscape, oblivious of the inhabitants that maintain a discreet wall of silence, understanding and observing more than the tourists realise.

A dry stone wall studded with eyes, catch the car lights; referencing both cats eyes in urban roads that bring the tourists and carve up the land, and the eyes of sheep unnervingly caught in headlights in remote parts of the countryside. Others, dwarfed by the landscape, blend unobtrusively with the moss.

See it at The National Trusts Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel at the head of Great Langdale, an awesome, seeming cul-de-sac, in the heart of The Lakes, a traditional meeting place for walkers, climbers, holidaymakers and locals, providing welcome refreshment,  conviviality and a respite from the elements.

Eyes on Stalks

When visitors first came to The Lakes their eyes were out on stalks at the savagery of the landscape, without realising that the inhabitants’ eyes were out on stalks at the antics of the visitors. Things have changed since Wordsworth and Coleridge strode the fells

Like small rare flowers, and easy to miss, a strange crop of eyes stare at walkers en route to look at the view. Others catch car headlights, like the cats eyes in urban roads that bring the tourists, and mimic the eyes of local livestock.

“Eyes on Stalks”, dwarfed by the landscape is in the area around the top access to Aira Force, a beauty spot now farmed and protected by The National Trust, and en route to a FRED installation by Kate Brundrett.

Artists statement:

If only walls could talk Cumbria, links work Margaret James-Barber created for an inner city car park in an historically rich but derelict part of Preston and a FRED work near Aira Force Ullswater.

Margaret James-Barber is both a solo and a collaborative artist, frequently linking work at different locations, sometimes using familiar domestic items out of context. Her practice is often site specific and ephemeral, as much concept as construction.

Her assemblages can take on a bizarre monumental quality, at other times work can be so subtle it can take the viewer by surprise, or so process based that the activity itself is the art.

She works in an innovative way using smell, food, light and shadow sound and performance as well as more traditional media in more traditional places. She is a curator, educator, and creator of contemporary art.



Langdale & Aira Force


Langdale: in the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel carpark

Aira Force: on the A5091,Park in the quarry half a mile south of Dockray, look around.  Cross the road and go through the gate at the right of the lay-by. Follow the path.


Aira Force

Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel


Artist's website:


Special thanks to:Craft Bits Dungeon ghyll hotel The National Trust

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