WASHING your dirty linen in public has taken on a whole new meaning in Barrow.

People who run and use the town’s laundrettes have come clean about the role these facilities play in their daily lives while chatting to Barrow-born artist, Ruth Mary Johnson.

And the result is a zine of printed poems by Ruth illustrated by Eleanor Finlay-Christiansen along with an audio piece featuring Ruth and the people of Barrow.

Life Through Laundry is an artist in residence project produced by arts organisation Quiet Down There for BarrowFull.

Quiet Down There runs a creative laundry space in Brighton and have been commissioning artists to make work with communities in and around laundrettes nationwide since 2000.

Over six weeks, Ruth spent time at laundrettes in Risedale Road, Crellin Street and at Easyclean on Barrow Island. She worked some shifts there and washed her own laundry while chatting to staff and customers. She also spoke to people at the chinwag sessions and clothes bank run by Women’s Community Matters.

“I really love laundrettes,” said Ruth. “I have vivid memories of going with my grandma to one in Ulverston and I loved the smell of it. Even when she got a washing machine of her own, grandma still went to the laundrette.”

Harry Baker, who worked at the Risedale Road laundrette for 30 years and still opens it up aged 82, even met his wife outside Lakeland Laundry which is the subject of one of Ruth’s poems.

John Long from Easyclean described having clean clothes as a basic human right.

“For some people, the laundrette is not just there for convenience, it’s a lifeline, somewhere they can feel a connection and have a chat,” said Ruth.

Ruth placed post boxes made to look like washing machines in the participating laundrettes where people could leave their memories and thoughts about them.

The Life Through Laundry poems and limited edition badges will be distributed at the laundrettes which took part in the project and at Barrow archives. The audio piece and online version of the poems will also be available via https://barrowfull.org.uk/