An artist-led company, seeking a role for art
that weaves it more fully into the fabric of our lives.

John Fox

Punch by John Fox from the FRAGMENTS from the WEATHER STATION exhibition

'A poet, painter and maker with enormous creative energy. A phone call to him is like a bumpy magic-carpet ride; the ideas and images are torrential.’  Adrian Mitchell


Click for biography

Sue Gill

Photgraph by Sue Gill of a carving from St Partrick's Church, Patrington

An author, secular celebrant for funerals, weddings and naming ceremonies, photographer, celebratory cook, street band saxophonist and caller for barn dances.  


Click for biography



& Associate Artists



Post Brexit - WHAT REMAINS for the 48% ???



John Fox created this image - a timely evocation of disaster - depicting a bully picking the carcass clean.


A4 mounted glicee print on 225gram Somerset Velvet paper, with archival quality inks.

£40 including p and p in the UK

For details please contact

Rites of Passage Autumn School, Ulverston, Cumbria

Friday 21st - Monday 24th October 2016 Swarthmoor Hall, Ulverston


Are you interested in the art of ceremony and celebration? Do you welcome surprising challenges? Would you enjoy hands- on creativity and time for reflection in the Cumbrian landscape? If you are at a moment of transition in your life, or if you want to expand your personal practice, this Autumn School is an opportunity to examine the Hows and Whys of ceremony in a safe environment. Together we will investigate how both positive and negative life events can be distilled into myth and poetry and how we can create meaningful rituals to contain them.


Sue Gill and Gilly Adams have been working together for many years and have a wealth of experience to share.



With Gilly Adams. Sue Gill runs courses in rites of passage and secular celebrancy, empowering many to sidestep any initial anxieties and claim creative ownership of secular ceremonies with new confidence: not only for events of birth, marriage and death, but more inventively for beginning and endings that involve loss, illness, leaving jobs, divorce, new journeys or giving thanks. A veritable feast of poetic archetypes .... Lucy Neal PLAYING FOR TIME, Oberon 2015



To secure one of the 5 remaining places with a non-refundable deposit of 50 or for more information please contact:

Sue Gill 01229 869 769


Gilly Adams 02920 552389


The fee of 430, payable by instalments before the start of the workshop,

covers tuition, materials and meals.

Accommodation is available on site but is not included in the fee.

forked tree wrapped in blue muslin/ cleansing ceremony

Wrapped tree: ceremony of cleansing after trauma


10 years ago since we archived WSI on 1st April 2006 and launched our new company Dead Good Guides

Francois Matarasso wrote a lovely piece English Visionaries: John Fox and Sue Gill and WSI on his blog A Restless Art on March 30 2016 about his visit to the Beach House. It has been well received on social media.




model of the Beach House made by Duncan Copley for the Fragments if the Weather Station exhibition
Model by Duncan Copley

We are based around the Beach House and Studio – a self-build eco house above the vast expanse of Morecambe Bay. Here, tides and  weather, beachcombing, log cutting, wild walks, making and writing all forge a deep commitment to this place. People are drawn to the Beach House in all seasons, to participate in our ongoing WILDERNEST and recent WEATHER STATION projects.  


Guardians of the Unpredictable

We make occasional forays inland, responding to invitations to create new site-specific work through residencies. We use sculpture, theatre, ceremony, words and music – whatever is necessary and available to make ideas concrete. We go out with teaching packages, talks, master classes and expertise to arts companies, conferences and communities.

Here at Dead Good Guides we are busy investigating - Fragments from the Weather Station, Snapshots from the Edge, and Whirlygigs of the Imagination


the studio by the sea where we create woodcuts, books and short filmsHow do we do it?

With ink on our fingers and brains in our hands, we make ideas concrete. With outsider artists as our mentors, we conjure up images and stories, generate unlikely dreams - celebratory moments that owe nothing to the consumer culture, holistic activities that make life worth living.

Why do we do it?

Because we are sure that home-made art and vernacular culture have to be the way forward. At the heart of our work is the

gift relationship where the currency is one of creative exchange.

How can you get involved?

We respond to invitations from networks who ask us to work with their artists, community arts workers and performers to inspire and nourish their practice. We bring spontaneity, wayward invention and an understanding that art has to be a mode of knowledge, a way of being and a daily experience. We also have a successful national programme of rites of passage courses to train celebrants in marking life events with appropriate ceremony.

What do we do? 

Anything from sculptural bread baking for feral feasts to beach combing with audacious outcomes, convening parades and processions for community celebrations to making biodegradable funeral urns. We write and publish books and pamphlets, iPad Icons for an Unknown Faith, projects which underline our denial of today’s leisure and retirement culture by offering an alternative, an entertainment and a way of life.    


Rites of Passage Training

Ceremonial flags on a rites of passage courseOur intensive 4 or 5 day courses cover life changing moments –of celebration and loss – as we examine the Hows and Whys of ceremony and celebration in a practical and experiential way. We investigate how both positive and negative life events can be distilled into myth and poetry and create meaningful rituals to contain them. For people interested in creating funerals, namings, partnership ceremonies, vow renewals, house blessings, coming of age ceremonies or darker occasions like illness, redundancy or divorce.

Gilly Adams, Sue Gill and on occasion John Fox, offer insights into their practice as secular celebrants, sharing their experience, offering theory, information, and hopefully – inspiration. Most importantly there are plenty of opportunities to learn and practise many aspects of the craft of creating ceremony – both public and private - in a safe environment.

Making sculptural bread on rites of passage workshop'I have built my business year on year. The course was so helpful. It informed my emerging style and gave me a lot of confidence to think outside the box when helping families find an appropriate way to celebrate the life of a loved one.

Thanks again to the team, and I do hope I am able to attend another of your courses soon - do keep sending me the info'

Dee Ryding, Independent Celebrant of the Year 2014


Next Rites of Passage Workshop 2016



led by Gilly Adams and Sue Gill of Dead Good Guides

21 24 October 2016 Swarthmoor Hall, Ulverston, Cumbria


Many of us experience ritual and ceremony in our lives in an inarticulate way, plagued by anxiety and embarrassment: we may settle for a formulaic response to marking birthdays; we may give a glance to the changing of the seasons; we bear witness at weddings and funerals.


Yet we may also experience the absence of ritual at key moments of change or loss when we yearn to find a vehicle for our emotions. This intensive four day course offers an opportunity to explore how ceremony and celebration feature, and have featured, in our own lives. This process empowers us to be bolder in honouring significant beginnings and endings and to facilitate that process for others in an imaginative and creative way.


This is not a nuts and bolts course but one shaped to fulfil the needs and aspirations of everyone involved. Journey is always a key metaphor in the work and the focus is on rolling up our sleeves and making ceremony - both public and private - in a safe environment. Gilly Adams and Sue Gill have been working together for many years and bring their own particular brand of humour and insight to the task of sharing their practical experience of secular celebrancy. The beautiful grounds of Swarthmoor Hall provide privacy and a resource for working in landscape.


Food is always a key element in ceremony and celebration, and since we will be eating home cooked lunches and evening meals together, feasting will be a special theme. The working day will be 10am 9pm, finishing at 2pm on the last day. Fees include tuition, all materials, and meals throughout. Accommodation, which needs to be paid for separately, is available at Swarthmoor and down the road in Ulverston.


There are 12 places available on this workshop at a cost of 430 each. A non-refundable deposit of 50 secures a place. For further information or to book, please contact:


Gilly Adams 029 20552389


Sue Gill 01229 869769



hand folded lotus blossom in paper being ceremonially burnt in a black bowl


Dead Good Guides Books

Dead Good Funerals Book - A guide to creating personalised and alternative funeralsOur catalogue is small yet it covers a range of books:

  • Children’s books created in the studio by the sea.
  • Poetry for Occasions – both profane and sacred.
  • Rites of Passage books – practical guides to creating distinctive ceremonies and celebrations. The Dead Good Funerals Book is our best seller!
  • Handbooks on Art and Community – essential manuals distilled from over 30 years working practice in celebratory theatre.

Welfare State International

the celebratory arts company in 1968 and closed it on April Fools Day 2006.


Parliament in Flames spectacle 1981 London
Parliament in Flames. Catford, London 1981 Directed by Boris Howarth.


"Britain's foremost arts and installations collective .   " The Guardian"

Longline Finale - Carnival Opera 2006 - Welfare State International's last show
Longline: the Carnival Opera. Ulverston 2006 - Welfare State International's last show.


DEAD GOOD GUIDES picks up where  Welfare State International left off.


For more information of WSI see our links page.