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.  


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& 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 Summer School 2017

Friday 23rd – Monday 26th June 2017
East Woodlands Village Hall, Frome, Somerset BA11 5LQ


If you are at a moment of transition in your life or would like to expand your personal practice, this four day Summer School is an opportunity to examine the Hows and Whys of ceremony and celebration in practical and experiential ways.

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 pay glancing attention to the changing of the seasons; we often bear witness at weddings and funerals. And yet, we may also experience the absence of ritual at key moments of change or loss when we long to find a vehicle to express our emotions. forked tree wrapped in blue muslin/ cleansing ceremony

Examining how ceremony and celebration feature, and have featured in our own lives, allows us to clarify how we can be bolder in honouring significant beginnings and endings and in imaginatively facilitating that process for others.

We will investigate how both positive and negative life events can be distilled into myth and poetry, and create meaningful rituals to contain them.

Journey, with all its associated imagery, is often a significant metaphor in the work

This is not a nuts and bolts course although we focus on practice more than theory. Most crucially, the days will be shaped to fulfil the needs and aspirations of participants so there will be opportunities to learn and practise many aspects of the craft of creating ceremony – both public and private - in a safe environment.

Gilly Adams and Sue Gill have been working together for many years and will offer insights into the cognitively rich world of the secular celebrant. They bring their own particular brand of humour and insight to the task of sharing their broad experience, offering theory, information, and – they hope – inspiration.


Image: Wrapped tree - ceremony of cleansing after trauma


Food is usually an important element in ceremony and celebration and, since we will be eating lunch and supper together, cooked specially for us, feasting will be a special theme. The working day will be from 10a.m. to 9p.m. except on the last day when we will finish at 2p.m.


The fee of £450 includes tuition, materials, meals and refreshments.
Payment in instalments can be arranged.
There are 12 places available.


Making sculptural bread on rites of passage workshopTo secure your place, send a cheque, payable to SUE GILL, to:
The Beach House, Swinestead Lane, Baycliff, Ulverston, Cumbria LA12 9RY (or request details for bank transfer).

East Woodlands Village Hall is on the edge of the Longleat Estate and has a very particular, rural character. Some accommodation is available in the immediate vicinity and more in the nearby town of Frome, including AirB&B. Look online. Accommodation is not included in the course fee. Nearest mainline train station is Westbury, 2hrs from London / SW line.

To express interest and/or for further information please contact
Sue Gill 01229 869769
Gilly Adams 02920 552389



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.

'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


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.