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


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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.  


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& Associate Artists


Feet in the Sand

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 Workshops 2016

Our Rites of Passage WINTER SCHOOL will be Saturday 6th - Tuesday 9th February 2016 at East Woodlands Village Hall near Frome in Somerset. East Woodlands is a charming venue, set in woodland just outside Frome, and only a two hour train journey from London [to Westbury station, close by]. We are happy to be returning there as it offers us an intimate and secluded environment and also the opportunity to work in the landscape, weather permitting.


The full fee will be £430, including home cooked lunches and evening meals each day, with 2 free Dead Good Guides handbooks - Funerals and Namings, value £20. Accommodation is not included. There are 12 places available on the workshop and the first 10 have already been booked. Payment by instalments can be arranged. If you would like to be on our mailing list, please email us. LATE DEAL on the last 2 places - £50 off each place - now £380 instead of £430.


Returning for the 4th time to Swarthmoor Hall, Ulverston, Cumbria, we plan to hold our Autumn School there in late September 2016. Dates to be announced shortly. Booking for this will open in March 2016, but we welcome expressions of interest at any time.




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.